Our Buildings and a little of our History
|Lewis Hall, viewed from the Lyceum.|
| The current home of the Department of Physics
and Astronomy is Lewis Hall, completed in 1939. The building is named
for Dr. Arthur Beverly Lewis, whose career at The University of Mississippi
began as a physics undergraduate student in 1919 and continued as a physics
professor from 1936 to 1969. Dr. Lewis was Chair of the Department
from 1953 to 1957 and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1957 to
1969. He donated his collection of Physics Abstracts, a journal
with articles spanning much of the development of high voltage physics,
to the department in 1998. The 40 years-worth of bound journals can
be viewed in room 228, along with a reprint given to us by Dr. Lewis of
the National Bureau of Standards Research Paper "Standard Electrodynamic
Wattmeter and AC-DC Transfer Instrument" by J. H. Park and A. B. Lewis.
Dr. Lewis died in May 2000, at the age of 98. He will be missed by
all who knew him.
As you enter Lewis Hall from the door at the left (east) side, the department office is the first door on the right (room 108). There, hanging above the bookcase of student theses and dissertations, is a portrait of Dr. William Lee Kennon, painted by his son. In the portrait Kennon holds a copy his book Astronomy: A Text Book for Colleges that was published in 1947. The edge of Kennon Observatory's main copper dome is visible at the far left of this photo.
|Lewis Hall, viewed from the north.|
| Dr. Kennon was instrumental in securing the
funding for Lewis Hall and Kennon Observatory. Lewis Hall was one
of the last constructions of the Works Progress Administration set up during
the Great Depression. Today, Lewis Hall houses lecture rooms and
laboratories for courses in physics and astronomy. Many faculty members
in the department have offices here, while others have their offices on
the south side of campus in the National Center for Physical Acoustics.
In 1995, a research wing was added southward from the southwest corner
of Lewis Hall.
Before Lewis Hall was built, the Department of Physics and Astronomy occupied Barnard Observatory, which was conceived for that purpose in 1856 by former Chair of Physics and Astronomy Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard. One of only three remaining antebellum buildings on campus, Barnard Observatory is now the home of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
Front door of Lewis Hall.
A portrait of Dr. Lewis hangs above the stairwell, on the right
after you enter through this door. Although the building was
completed in 1939, it was not named 'Arthur Beverly Lewis Hall'
until 1977, as was then directed by the Board of Trustees of the
Institutions of Higher Learning. From 1939 to 1977 it was
known simply as 'the physics building'.
|Kennon Observatory, from the back.|
|Kennon Observatory, conceived by Professor William Lee Kennon, was completed in 1939. Two copper-roofed domes were included to accomodate two different instruments: a fifteen inch telescope, with co-aligned visual and photographic telescopes, was moved into the bigger dome, while the smaller dome housed a five inch telescope that had been acquired by F. A. P. Barnard in about 1856. The design in the railing in front of this entrance (behind the new ramp) illustrates the Pythagorean Theorem; its use as a decoration for the department dates back to the design of the observatory. This motif was also used in the staircase railings of the addition to Lewis Hall. In 1997, the department began refurbishing the Little Dome and the octagonal room of Kennon Observatory.|
|This, the main entrance of the observatory, faces due south, and the building is precisely aligned east to west. A small tube in the south wall is oriented such that direct rays of the sun shine through it to the floor only twice a year, at noon on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. The slanted metal roof of the transit room (between the main and small rooms) was designed to open for observations using a three inch meridian telescope.|
|The untimely death of Dr. Kennon in 1952, after 41 years of distinguished service to the department and the university, prompted the Board of Trustees to name this the 'William Lee Kennon Observatory'. Dr. Kennon was Chair of Physics and Astronomy for 40 years. He was popular with and respected by students and faculty alike. His influence is still felt throughout the department -- his careful planning of the physics buildings, his successful efforts to attain funding for new demonstration and laboratory equipment, his commitment to the growth of the curriculum, his nurturing of the students -- all these things are Dr. Kennon's legacy.|
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