160 years of the Avenue of the Oaks
This year marks the 160th anniversary of the Avenue of the Oaks. For more than 60 years, the avenue has been the traditional site for the College’s commencement ceremonies, and thousands of graduates have processed under the giant oaks that Roger Stewart planted in 1850.
Stewart, a Scottish cotton merchant, purchased the property adjacent to the College and in 1848 built a Greek revival home, known as “Stewartfield.” The Avenue of the Oaks originally was part of an oval racetrack, which curved around the front of the house at the south end of the avenue. The College purchased the house and property in 1903 from Stewart’s oldest daughter, Annie Stewart Field.
The first graduation ceremony on the avenue was held in 1949. Prior to 1930, commencements were held at the old Battle House auditorium in downtown Mobile, and from 1930 to 1949 in Byrne Library on the campus.
Some reflections may be included in the spring 2011 issue of the Spring Hill College Magazine.