MacMurray's campus is steeped in history, folklore, and legend. Below is just a sampling of the landmarks and attractions that define MacMurray College. Schedule a campus visit to see for yourself what makes MacMurray special!
The story of the "Maggie" tree is one of those long-lasting legacies. On April 27, 1915, the entire class of that year (and at that time, all women) gathered in front of Main Hall and planted the class gift, a magnolia tree. Each girl added a shovel of dirt and dubbed the tree "Maggie." This event was part of Tree Day, a tradition practiced since the early 1880s that featured a ceremonial burning of examination papers. The ashes from the burning were placed in a hole alongside the year's new tree. This tradition was upheld until the early 1960s.
Maggie was by far the best-known of these gift trees. For several years, Maggie's birthday was honored, but that custom has long since passed. Although Main Hall no longer stands, Maggie herself remains at the corner of Clay and State Streets — a constant reminder of her presence every spring with a colorful display of pink and white blossoms accompanied by the inviting scent of magnolia.
The graduating class of 2015 revived the gift tree tradition and planted a magnolia tree in front of Rutledge Hall, in honor of the 100th birthday of the iconic Maggie.
Excerpt from the student handbook, "The Maggie." (PDF)
The Michalson Monster
A dormitory by the name of Harker Hall was once home to a monster simply called the "Harker Monster." The monster was a docile one and very protective of his fellow residents. When Harker Hall was torn down in 1971, the monster was forced to relocate to another building, and it chose the newly-built Michalson Hall on the other end of campus. The beast left its tracks during the move, which can be seen beginning at the original site of Harker (where Putnam-Springer currently sits) and leading right up to Michalson.
In honor of the monster's (now dubbed the "Michalson Monster") trek, it has become a tradition for students to paint the footprints anew at the beginning of each school year.
Derived in part from Scott Maruna, "The Haunts of MacMurray College," Unexplained mysteries of Jacksonville and the surrounding area; published by Swamp Gas Book Co. © 2006
The James Jaquess House
James Jaquess was MacMurray College's first President. During the Civil War, he was Chaplain of the 6th Illinois Cavalry and later Colonel of the 73rd Illinois Infantry. With Lincoln's permission, he visited the Confederacy in 1863 to talk with leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church South about ending the war. The following summer, Lincoln sent Jaquess and author James Gilmore to talk with the President of the Confederacy. They publicized Jefferson Davis' declaration, "We are fighting for independence — and that, or extermination, we will have." Lincoln next engaged Jaquess as one of his "private agents." He reported on meetings in Canada between Confederates and anti-war Americans and worked with a Confederate scientist to create a self-extinguishing bomb.
The James Jaquess House is reserved for use by the president of MacMurray College. It was dedicated as a Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibit on November 11, 2009.
The Peace Pole
Installed on October 28, 2005, the Peace Pole is inscribed with the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth." The project was initiated by Lisa Thuer '05, a former president of SOLACE, an organization committed to reducing prejudice and discrimination in all forms.
Members of the MacMurray Student Association (MSA) voted on the eight languages to be represented on the pole: English, Sign Language, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Hebrew. The project was made possible by donations from events sponsored by SOLACE as well as concession sales at various events, serving as a way to bring harmony to campus before and after its installation outside the Gamble Campus Center.