The Tornado Cross Garden
a small courtyard in the Mabee-Simpson Library of Lyon College stands an icon
sacred to the college.
The Tornado Cross, a quiet
sentinel, is a testament of the toughness of the college
in recovering from the worst devastation in its history.
The cross was torn off the
steeple of Brown Chapel in 1973 during a tornado that
completely destroyed two buildings and heavily damaged
several others, striking on Maundy Thursday at 10:30 in
the morning. Thankfully no one was killed.
As people wandered around
in shock that day, regrouping and reorganizing, Dr.
Fitzhugh Spragins, Brown Professor of Religion, ’57,
found the cross and tucked it away in his office where
it stayed for 22 years until his retirement in 1995.
At that time,
on October 21, 1995, the cross was placed in the
courtyard and dedicated by President John Griffith. Lou
Ann Hance ’52 gave the granite pedestal on which it
stands. The courtyard consisted of grass, beautiful
Japanese maple trees, benches for meditation, and
shrubs. The courtyard was enjoyed and stood quietly for
many years until 2010.
supporters of the library wanted to improve the
Larry Coleman, a master
gardener in Batesville was consulted and he created a
plan for a Japanese Meditation Garden, inspired by the
existing Japanese maples.
Bids came from several
A carpenter, George Simon
was consulted about costs for outdoor furniture.
project was finalized and then the request went out for
Mrs. Hope Spragins led the
charge. Friends and relatives of Dr. Spragins, and
“Friends of the Library” completed the project.
“Mitchell’s Landscaping” was hired and the project was
completed in October of 2010.
Now the “Tornado Cross
Garden” includes two gurgling fountains, boulders
covered with moss, huge flagstones leading to the cross,
wooden furniture for relaxing, and landscaping that
includes exotic plants, trees, and shrubs. The
Mabee-Simpson Library is proud of the Memorial Garden,
and thankful to all those who contributed to it.
It is a beautiful addition
to Lyon College and will give everyone many years of
peace, tranquility, and harmony. The cross stands strong
as does Lyon College, a tribute to the faith of the Lyon
people to believe and to persevere.
-Written by Camille Beary, class of
Assistant Director of the Mabee-Simpson Library of Lyon
reminiscing about Dr. Spragins in the Memorial Garden
Seal of Lyon College: “Perseverantia
Omnia Vincet Deo Volente”
(Perseverance conquers all, God