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Monday, April 11, 2005

Spring Hill College From Above


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Like a torch upon a hillside overlooking Mobile, Alabama, Spring Hill College (1830) is about as far into the Deep South as you get. Packing a solid Jesuit education into a rich historical environment makes learning all the more an exciting experience. The proximity to Gulf Shores, Pensacola Beaches and New Orleans nonwithstanding. Though personally, I found Mardi Gras in Mobile to be more laid back, safer and more fun.

This image of Spring Hill from above is again courtesy of Google's new satellite map image service. If you right click the link to open it up in a new window you can read this text while looking at the image.

The graphic map below provides some colorful perspective, but is reversed in orientation compared to the satellite map. For details on each building check the map legend.

In the satellite image, Old Shell Road, so named because in the era before asphalt it was indeed an old shell road, runs from east to west, and two college lanes run south and south-east. The south running road is marked by two thick stands of oak trees, in fact, the road itself is impossible to see, this is the colleges historic Avenue of the Oaks which terminates at Stewartfield, a small southern mansion with its own ballroom at the end of the first floor corridor. The ballroom was built on springs and sways when full of people dancing.

In that room, the President's Office of the college, or at least it was, is a framed letter from the Holy Cross Fathers asking if the Jesuits of Spring Hill could come up and take over their school in South Bend, Indiana which was weathering hard times. The Jesuits declined. But this letter, which I have seen with my own eyes, is the historical root of the "Notre Dame, the Spring Hill of the North" sweatshirts I have seen from time to time.

If you follow the other street down you pass most of the dorms and come near St. Joseph's Chapel, a beautiful and historic church. To the east is a line of azaleas of staggering beauty, which mark Spring Hill's place on Mobile's Historic Azalea Trail which makes each spring a heady delight.

Of course, such things are more easily seen from photos, and this Campus Tour shows off a lot of the better features of the school.

If you would like a view of the more historic structures, especially St. Joseph's Chapel, try this 360 Degree Spring Hill Campus Tour which starts there.

If you zoom in to maximum zoom, some aspects of recreational life are immediately apparent. The central location of the tennis courts to some of the dorms and the student center. The golf course on the southwest side of the campus, it was $1 for 9 holes for a student in 1980, surely it has gone up. Yes, a pleasant place to go to school.

Part of the charm of the school was seeing certain campus staff moving around on golf carts, unusually ahead of their times from an environmental point of view.

The campus had a special beauty at night, when gas lit lights were illuminated by the fog rolling in from Mobile Bay. The hill providing a view of the lights of Mobile and the harbor below. I remember watching the fog roll up the hill, through the crags and crevices, defying gravity in thick rolling wonder, like children in a game of capture the flag, until being enveloped in a warm wet blanket of fog. Comforting, light, hiding, or not quite hiding things around me depending on its depth.

Don't let the pleasant atmosphere fool you though. A wonderful environment. Rich friendships. But be prepared to work. It is a Jesuit school. Ita. AMDG.

Here's a secret, straight from The Peter Files online applications to Spring Hill college are free.

My thoughts on this file,


With thanks to the college for images lifted freely from their website for the purposes of promoting my alma mater.
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