You are here

Barnard Observatory

-A A +A
1857–1859. Grove Loop, University of Mississippi
  • (Photograph by Jennifer V.O. Baughn)

Located north of The Grove, a wooded area on the University of Mississippi campus, the Barnard Observatory building now houses the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, but its origins were scientific and audacious. When Frederick A. P. Barnard became chancellor, he set out to make the university a national leader in what was then called "experimental science" by abandoning the classical method of recitation in favor of observation and experimentation. To further his plan he commissioned a structure housing telescopes and laboratory equipment for physics, using as his model the observatory at Harvard College (c. 1846), a building composed on a five-part Palladian plan, with central block, connectors, and terminating flankers. For Barnard, this meant a cubic, brick, central mass with a portico, minimal openings, and a wooden drum awaiting the telescope, which was to be larger than Harvard's but never arrived because of the Civil War. Atop the flankers, roof monitors were to receive a smaller telescope and a comet seeker, more dreams left unfulfilled. Barnard departed for what is now Columbia University in 1864 and with him went the cause of advanced science. The equipment for physics experiments, which did arrive, is on display in the University of Mississippi Museum.

Writing Credits

Michael Fazio
Jennifer V.O. Baughn and Michael Fazio



  • 1857


What's Nearby


Michael Fazio, "Barnard Observatory", [, Mississippi], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.