The 2018 Oxford Business Landscape Award goes to the University of Mississippi Foundation. The honor was recently bestowed by Oxford Garden Club and the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.
The UM Foundation is located in the historic and stately Brandt Memory House near the northern edge of the Ole Miss campus. An antebellum home inhabited by generations of legendary Oxford, Mississippi, families, the property now appropriately complements a university that is continually named among the nation’s most beautiful.
“Countless students have told us that the beauty of our beloved campus was the deciding factor in their choice to enroll at Ole Miss,” said Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation, who oversees the Memory House lawn and gardens. “We believe our grounds should reflect the radiance of our neighboring campus and create a welcoming space for our donors, tourists and other guests.
Guest said special recognition goes to Erasmo Leyva and Eric St. John whose diligent work beautifies the landscaping around Memory House and the adjacent Carriage House, home to the UM Office of Development.
It’s no surprise to alumni and friends of the university that the property at 406 University Avenue was recognized for its beauty.
“I am fortunate to have an office overlooking one of the most beautiful landscapes in town, and I see people stopping to take pictures and to admire the house and lawn every day,” said UM alumnus Ron Guest, executive director of Foundation Services. “The beauty of Memory House is reflected in every season and people are drawn to it.”
The location is equally special to Oxford resident Ashlan Glaze who chose the setting for a professional photography session, from which she now has keepsake images with significant sentimental value.
“Memory House was the perfect spot for our family pictures,” she said. “It’s very picturesque and the house looks like it’s straight out of a Hallmark movie.
“It was the first time since my husband Chris and I moved to Oxford that almost all my family got to be under one roof to celebrate the holidays together. My grandfather was there for those pictures and he passed away in July of this year,” Glaze continued. “So Memory House will always hold a special place in my heart, and the pictures will be a constant reminder of all the memories we made as a family.”
Tina Hahn – director of communications for University Development housed in Carriage House and part of the Memory House complex – said she feels blessed to be able to work in such an exceptional setting.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that I think about how special this place is every day. Environment has such a powerful impact on all aspects of our lives. I am grateful to work and write in this beautiful place that carries so much meaning from the past and holds so much potential for the future.”
In 1995, Memory House was officially dedicated to Ole Miss alumnus and longtime supporter Louis Brandt of Houston, Texas.
Brandt contributed the seed money for the Foundation to buy Memory House and its grounds, retired the mortgage after its renovation and created an endowment for its upkeep. He also has provided critical support to the University's academic and athletics programs for more than 40 years.
Brandt said it was his “honor and pleasure” to offer financial support for the Memory House renovation because he wanted to give UM Foundation staff a permanent home on campus. Previously, Foundation officers were located in converted hotel rooms of the Alumni House, now the Inn at Ole Miss.
“Memory House has turned out to be a real highlight of the entrance to the university; it’s one of the first things you see as you’re approaching the campus from University Avenue,” he said. “It’s a beautiful architectural design, and I’m always pleased to see what outstanding landscaping has been maintained there.”
To read a brief history of Memory House, click here.
For information on making a financial gift to the university, click here.
By Bill Dabney