The Round Table Literary Journal, published annually since its first edition at Hopkinsville Community College in 1967, inspired a park on the campus with numerous features that celebrate the medieval, mythological figure King Arthur and his kingdom, Camelot.
The park is in a grove of trees on a portion of the college campus that borders Elm Street. It features a replica of King Arthur’s sword in a large stone, a Round Table surrounded by 24 stone seats and a Graeco-Roman amphitheater with a sculpture of Melpomene. The late Steve Shields, a sculpture artist responsible for numerous works in Hopkinsville and elsewhere, created the sculpture of Melpomene, the Greek muse of tragedy.
One of HCC’s early faculty members, humanities professor Frances Thomas, worked for more than 20 years to see various parts of Round Table Literary Park developed. The first pieces, in 1974, were King Arthur’s sword embedded in stone and the massive Round Table.
Fifteen years later, the amphitheater was completed by local stone mason Walton Smith.
Stones from several historic sites in Hopkinsville — the original Hopkinsville High School on Walnut Street, Bethel College, West Side School, Virginia Street School, First Baptist Church and the Venable home, which was believed to be the inspiration for Robert Penn Warren’s short story, “The Circus in the Attic” — are included in the amphitheater.
The college dedicated the park to Thomas in 1996 and installed a large metal marker that includes her likeness.
Thomas was the first faculty advisor for the college’s literary journal. She died in 2012 at age 86.