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See the Sights at Oxford College of Emory University
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See the Sights at Oxford College of Emory University

Oxford College of Emory University has quite a reputation for enticing visitors to take a stroll among its distinguished halls and superb structures. This month is of great centennial importance for the undergraduate campus because June 7, 1919, was the final commencement of students on the university’s original grounds. Subsequent years saw the transfer of upperclassmen to the Atlanta campus. The liberal arts school at Oxford turned towards college preparatory coursework. Through the years, the two-year institute of the Oxford College Campus of Emory University embraced its history and manages to make the past a part of it its ever-evolving present.

Cultivating a College

Located on fifty-six beautifully wooded acres in Oxford, the school holds true to its roots of remaining an integral piece of the City of Oxford’s legacy. The town and college grew simultaneously and flourished together equally. The foundations of both were firmly planted within the pursuit of knowledge for all and a love for organized religion, purposefully intertwined with an appreciation for the beauty of nature. The seeds of what was then Oxford College sprouted from the Georgia Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836 and carries the namesake of Methodist Bishop John Emory. 

Ties and Traditions

Never losing sight of the importance of continuing to carry on heritage, future generations at Oxford College of Emory University held tightly to the values established in the early 1800s. Baccalaureate services for the fledgling school began at Old Church in 1843, only disrupted between the years of 1862 and 1864. Civil War history buffs can appreciate this disruption as the school was used as an infirmary during the Civil War. Coordinated by the campus chaplain, this interfaith celebration of song and prayer continues today and incorporates the diverse beliefs of its student body.

The vision to expand the Oxford campus to Atlanta became a reality through the philanthropic heart of donors like Asa Griggs Candler, founder of The Coca-Cola Company. Another tradition that echoes throughout the years is the annual Coca-Cola toast that rings in a new academic year. That spirit is never forgotten and is observed each year at orientation.

Emory at Oxford sought and was awarded well well-deserved accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools as the state of Georgia’s very first four-year junior college in 1947. The buildings and monuments have firmly withstood the test of time, with the help of restoration efforts. Phi Gamma Hall, erected in 1851 by the Phi Gamma Literary Society, stands as the oldest structure on the campus. Recent aesthetic renovations have restored historic function and relevance to the Greek Revival architecture which once held formal debates on concerning topics of the times as well as a serving as a place of respite for the Confederate wounded.

Each edifice and memorial on the Oxford College of Emory University campus is one to marvel at, but perhaps the one with the most fascinating story of its origin is the clocktower bell that adorns Seney Hall. The oldest artifact at the college, the five-hundred-pound copper and tin alloy bell was cast in 1796. Speculation continues on how Alexander Means, the fourth president of Emory College from 1854 to 1855, came into possession of the gift he bestowed upon the first administration building. One account was that the bell was given to Means by Queen Victoria because of her interest in the English fundamentals Emory College was founded upon. Another story is that it was among several bells Napoleon confiscated during his invasion of Spain and that Means purchased it while in Paris in the mid-1850s. Both possibilities only serve to make the sound of the bell ringing every 30 minutes in Oxford that much more intriguing. 

Compliment your visit with a serene walk along the Oxford Trail accessible at various points outside of the campus quadrangle and stop in for a bite to eat at the farm to table dining hall

while you’re taking it all in. Whether you’re contemplating furthering your education, a local Civil War history connoisseur, or planning a vacation in the area, Oxford College of Emory University is sure to stimulate your senses!

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