The Beauty and Details of Rhodes College

Haliburton Tower, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

Haliburton Tower, Rhodes College – Memphis, Tennessee

The small and private Rhodes College is the most picturesque college we visited so far. That includes the other places that we saw last month, on our 4 state college tour, as well as the 3 large universities we went to, last December.

Located in the mid-town section of Memphis, the campus borders an upscale neighborhood, as well as Overton Park and the Memphis Zoo. With a modest 2,000 students and surrounded by a stylish old fence, the place resembles a leafy country club with Collegiate Gothic buildings. There is a timelessness that seems removed from the busy and noisy 21st century.

Visiting this place was the reason we drove to Memphis. College guidebooks talk about its beauty and I must say, actually being there, the attractiveness had exceeded my expectations. There’s certainly more than the look of the campus to consider when picking a school. Rhodes is a well-respected academic institution, but no doubt its campus is a strong selling point. The old stonework and ivy-covered walls fit the image of a college, the likes that you might imagine in England or the Northeast. Seeing such a place in Tennessee was certainly unexpected.

Burrow Hall, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Palmer Hall, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

All of the buildings are constructed from the same field stone, which gives a level of uniformity lacking at most schools. There are signs however, that buildings were built at different times. The older structures, built in the 1920s, certainly have a patina that is hard to replicate in newer buildings.

Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

There’s a level of finesse that is delightful for anyone interested in architecture. While I was only there for a few of hours, I could have spent all day taking photos. I would have also loved to shoot the campus in the evening and into the night, on a tripod. Alas, I took these snaps with my trusty Panasonic ZS50 travel zoom.

Library, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Library, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Library, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

The library is impressive. While it retains that uniform old Gothic look, it was completed in 2005. The inside is equally stunning, with a level of detail not usually found in modern buildings. There’s certainly a commitment by the school to keep that timeless feel.

Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

Other buildings are noteworthy in their own way. The dinning hall has an airy, communal feel.

The Rhodes Seal, located in a classroom building, is a source of traditional and superstition. Students are not supposed to step on it until they graduate, or suffer dire academic consequences. What you find out in these college tours is that there is always a tradition that’s established around maximizing luck, before tests and ultimately graduation.

Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

Details, Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee

Finally, here are some more details from Rhodes. Delightful to be sure.

Like any place, there are always downsides. Some of the dorms and classrooms weren’t as modern as other schools. While surrounded on 3 sides by nice neighborhoods, the area east turns surprisingly downscale — quickly. I’m sure security is fine. Those impressive fences with guard houses, which initially gave that exclusive country club feel, can certainly deter unwanted visitors. Or is it to keep rowdy college students safely penned.

While it’s easy to be taken by the elegance of Rhodes, my son and I are firmly committed to making a balanced and rational choice. As a subject for a Photo Blog, however, Rhodes is second to none. Certainly my pick as the most beautiful campus of all our visits to date.


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