The University of the South's Unofficial Gallery of Confederates

Convocation Hall and contiguous Breslin Tower are two of the storied buildings on the University of the South's campus and among the oldest. Their cornerstones were laid in 1886. Convocation originally was built as a "chapter house" (for meetings of religious authorities) and gymnasium, and it later long served as the University's library (see the banner image). Today it is used for public gatherings and lectures, and its walls are adorned with historical portraits of many of the Episcopal bishops associated with the University's pre-Civil War founding and post-Civil War resurrection. The sixteen historical portraits underscore the University's roots in the civilization of bondage and the formation and leadership of the Confederacy. The images also signify the institution's contributions to the campaign and cult of the "Lost Cause," whose post-Civil War proponents erased the centrality of slavery to the antebellum South and the Civil War and enshrined those who fought for the Confederacy as noble defenders of the homeland and heroes of the white race.

The portraits and other works of art and commemoration on display have changed over the generations, but the principal function of the space — to tell the history of the University through commemorative portraits of its most storied men — has been continuous since the building became the campus library after 1901, when a new dedicated gymnasium was completed.


In This Exhibit