Palmer Hall at Rhodes College


Legacies Classification
Memorial Place
Memorial Type
Named Building
Memorial Context
Memorialized Subject
Palmer, Benjamin Morgan
Palmer Hall at Rhodes College
Background and Context
Palmer Hall was named after Benjamin Morgan Palmer, "the father of [the] institution," according to the Palmer Memorial Tablet. Palmer was a staunch advocate of Presbyterian higher education after the Civil War and was instrumental in the re-founding of Stewart College in Clarksville, Tennessee as Southwestern Presbyterian University in 1875. He served on the SPU Board of Directors for many years.

Palmer was mainly known, however, as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, where he served beginning in 1855. Before and during the Civil War, he preached and taught that the preservation of slavery was Southerners' "divine trust." After the War, he became an advocate of racial separation and white supremacy and a leading exponent of the Lost Cause.

Palmer Hall, built in Palmer's honor and funded by the people of New Orleans, was dedicated the day Rhodes College opened its doors in Memphis, September 24, 1925. Since that time, the structure has been the college's main administration building and remains the most prominent building on campus.

In 2017 a commission was created to investigate the possibility of changing the name of Palmer Hall and in 2019 the Rhodes College Board of Trustees voted to rename the building Southwestern Hall.
Memorial Inscription
To the Glory of God
In Grateful Recognition
of the generosity of the peo-
ple of New Orleans by whom
this building was erected
in Memory of
Benjamin Morgan Palmer
for forty five years pastor of
The First Presbyterian Church
of New Orleans
Born in Charleston, SC 1818
Died in New Orleans 1902

The Father of this institution
which was the first to place the
Bible as a required textbook in its
curriculum and which through all
the years continues to enshrine
this ideal of Christian education

A Patriot, A Scholar, An Educator
an Ecclesiastical Statesman
and a pulpit Orator unsurpassed.
Date created, installed or dedicated
September 1925
Date Modified
April 2019
Funded by
People of New Orleans
Location: Institution, City, State
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