Auto Crash Damages Mizpah Gate

Southwestern's historic Mizpah Gate was seriously damaged this morning when it was struck by an auto. (Photo: B.J. Mondesir)

Southwestern’s historic Mizpah Gate was seriously damaged this morning when it was struck by an auto. (Photo: B.J. Mondesir)

Southwestern Adventist University’s Mizpah Gate sustained serious damage this morning when a car crashed into the monument. The car, traveling north on South College Drive, hit one of the main support columns of the Mizpah Gate at approximately 8:35 a.m. The driver sustained no major injuries.

The Keene Fire Department, Keene Police Department and Southwestern’s plant services department immediately began to work on stabilizing the monument for safety. While plant services continues to work on the monument in an effort to minimize damage, administration will work with masonry experts to determine what needs to be done to repair and preserve the monument.

“We are saddened by this event but very grateful that no one was hurt,” says President Ken Shaw. “Our first priority is to make sure that everyone is safe.”

The Mizpah Gate is the historical entrance to Southwestern Adventist University’s campus. The gate was a class gift from the seniors of 1937 and was completed in June of that year. H. H. Hamilton, who was the college president from 1935 to 1944, designed it. The gate, made out of hundreds of pieces of petrified wood, was officially dedicated as a Texas monument in 2009.

The Mizpah Gate is a symbol of Southwestern’s rich history. It was named after Southwestern’s yearbook, the first one being printed in 1921. The name Mizpah, which translate as “watchtower,” is based on Genesis 31:49 (otherwise known as the Mizpah Prayer). The name was intended to remind all of those who came to join the Southwestern family that, wherever they went after departing the campus, “the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another.”

As the campus evolved and grew over the years, the Mizpah Gate remained and became recognized by thousands as the traditional entrance to the campus. Today, the gate is the centerpiece of a special dedicatory prayer ceremony beginning each school year as Southwestern literally rolls out a red carpet through the gate. The freshman class is invited to walk through the gate as faculty and parents say a prayer of dedication over them.

“The gate is an important symbol on our campus,” says Shaw. “It will take some time to figure out how to repair it, but we will do everything we can to preserve it.

“For our freshmen, the gate actually symbolizes leaving high school and coming onto a university campus. It also represents the strong sense of family our University is known for. You walk through the gate and you’re part of the family. It’s a strong representation of who we are.”

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