A Park By Any Other Name
From protest to peace, park holds memories for alumni.
Depending on what year you graduated from Mizzou, you might know the green space on the north edge of campus by McAlester Park or Peace Park, which students renamed in 1971 to commemorate the deaths of four Kent State students. The oldest undeveloped land on Mizzou’s main campus, the 4-acre park is home to more than 100 trees and on any given day hosts bookish students, medieval re-enactments, flying Frisbees, community festivals and peaceful protests.
In the early 1900s, McAlester Hall was home to the medical school, operating rooms and laboratories. John Vandelicht, a retired manager of Campus Facilities’ Custodial Services, remembers when a colony of monkeys used in research were housed in the annex behind the hall. Today, that small building is known as the Monkey House.
The Mizzou Botanic Garden set a goal to plant 175 trees during Mizzou’s 175th anniversary year in 2014. They beat that goal, planting 232 trees on Mizzou’s campus, including seven in Peace Park.
The Bridge that Binds
Legend has it that couples who walk across the stone bridge in Peace Park are destined to fall in love and marry.
In the spring of 1970, MU students gathered in the park for a folk concert. By the end of the night, they had taken rocks piled along the creek that bisects the park and formed a peace symbol in the northeast corner of the park, recalls Gary Leabman, BS BA ’71, of Hermann, Missouri. Before the end of the semester, Leabman and friends added flowers and shrubs and a stone that read, “Peace will be the Dawn of Civilization.”