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The Rain Garden


A multi-year landscaping project, begun in 2009, created an infiltration basin designed to keep rain water in the garden and out of the sewage system. A main objective was to solve the museum’s drainage problem. This sustainable, “green” system is a joint endeavor between the Mississippi State University Department of Landscape Architecture and the museum. Landscape architecture faculty and students are providing the design and free labor for the project, with assistance from Master Gardeners.

Ongoing funding for construction and plant materials was initially provided mainly by tax-deductible gifts to the Friends of the Museum and by small grants. The city and the county donated construction materials and labor. In-kind donations by local businesses, such as Bell Building Supply, and Master Gardeners also contributed to the project. 

The rain garden is a teaching model for the community, garden clubs, students, and regional landscape contractors. It also serves as a point of interest for visitors to the museum.

Left: Lynn Spruill and Wayne Wilkerson presented checks for the rain garden to Joan Wilson and Wanda Thorne.

Right: Donors who gave $1,000 or more will have their names engraved on the metal plaque located on the kiosk near the museum’s entrance.

Lynn Spruill and Wayne Wilkerson present checks to Joan Wilson and Wanda Thorne.

Faculty and students in landscape architecture and architecture collaborated on a project to construct a green-roof pavilion, beginning in 2012. Interested community members attended the April 15, 2013 pavilion dedication.


On October 1, 2013, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announced the winners of the 2013 Professional Awards and Student Awards in its annual national competition. An undergraduate student team from Mississippi State University won an Award of Excellence (the highest award) in the category of Student Collaboration for its work at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum. ASLA presented 33 awards from more than 534 entries at its Annual Meeting & EXPO in Boston on November 18. The October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine  (LAM) featured the winning projects, and more than 500 Barnes & Noble stores featured them on the end-caps of the magazine sections. For detailed information and photos of the winning project, follow this link: Kudos to the landscape architecture students and faculty for such an impressive honor.

In December 2013, MSU landscape architecture faculty and students had a work session at the museum: They weeded, built a platform (for seating or performing) in the pavilion, and erected two structures that serve as yard art. The first structure uses repurposed materials to allow water draining from the pavilion’s roof to cascade down the “flowers” (previously, tractor discs). The second structure is a section of fire escape from the MSU Old Main dormitory that burned in 1959. MSU Graphic Arts produced a sign describing the fire escape’s significance.

In summer 2014, the Friends of the Museum paid to have the front porch, ramp, and benches painted to help preserve the wood and to match the museum’s colors. The pavilion’s benches and stairway to the green roof were also painted. A convex mirror was installed at the roofline so that the roof garden can be viewed from ground level.  (see photos on About Us page)

The Rain Garden project was featured on the American Society of Landscape Architects professional practice blog, “The Field,” in April 2016. Read the article here.

Gallo talking to attendees
Cory Gallo talking to a group about the rain garden
picture of student collaboration website.
Picture from opening event.
Finalizing the pavilion
The pavilion during construction.
Students working in the rain garden
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