Monday, March 20, 2023

Vassallo: Lewis Hall – Out Of Mind, But Not Out Of Sight

lewis Hall

Lewis Hall, completed in 1939, is the academic locale for physics and astronomy.

The hall is not frequently discussed in the same context as the more famous and better known buildings on campus, but its significance cannot be downplayed. Known simply as the Physics Building until 1977, the building was then renamed for Dr. Arthur Beverly Lewis.

In 1919 Dr. Lewis was an undergrad physics student and was a physics professor from 1936-1969. He also served as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1957-1969.

Adjacent to Lewis Hall (to the south) is Kennon Observatory named for the former Chair of Physics and Astronomy (for 40 years), Dr. William Lee Kennon. Dr. Kennon secured the funding for Lewis Hall and Kennon Observatory during the Great Depression. Dr. Kennon published in 1947 “Astronomy: A Text Book for Colleges.”

Kennon Observatory was also completed in 1939 and features two copper roofed domes, one for a 15-inch telescope and the smaller to house a five-inch telescope. The larger domed building is aligned east to west with the main entrance facing south. A small tube in the south wall is oriented such that the direct rays of the sun shine through it to the floor only two times each year, at noon on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Portraits of both men can be found in Lewis Hall. The history of these two buildings and all of their contributions have played a considerable role in the life of Ole Miss.

The next time you pass by these historical buildings, take a moment to reflect on all who have profited from the many years of education, involving this earth and the entire solar system.

(A special credit to the University of Mississippi for the historical references.)

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.

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