Millsaps College Historic James Observatory Case Studies
The James Observatory, an historic landmark at Millsaps College in Jackson,
Mississippi, is an iconic, brick building and prominent feature of the
campus. Built in 1892 and topped with a wooden catwalk as well as a metal
rotating dome, the building was once used by astronomers to calculate
the exact time by observing the stars. Renovated in 1980 to provide Millsaps
College students with further opportunities to learn, the building is
open for gazing at stars, tracking comets, observing planets, or just
enjoying the sky.
Situation: The 120+ year old building’s rear wing had severe problems. The
end of the structure was sinking, as evidenced by growing cracks in the
mortar of the bricks on both sides of the structure. The James Observatory
had settled as much as 4 in. along the rear wall, likely due to a prior
grading adjustment that allowed the soil adjacent to the problem site
to collapse and settle. Ram Jack Mississippi was called by a contractor
who encountered the damage while doing other repairs.
Solution: Ram Jack Mississippi proposed using two battered tiebacks with an epoxy
coated whaler to pull the wall back to its original location. Realizing
the extent of the damage and the underlying issues of the historic building,
Ram Jack Mississippi was unsure as to whether or not the structure could
be recovered to its original condition.
Outcome: Two 2 7⁄8” battered helical piles tied into a custom whaler
were installed. They reached an average depth of 18 ft., and adequately
stabilized the structure. The job took two days in total.
Download the full case study in pdf format