History of Floyd Hall


Material Information

History of Floyd Hall
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Walker, Philip L.
Department of Architecure, University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution.
System ID:

Full Text


Philip L. Walker

Spring 1985

Assistant Dean
College of Agriculture
1915 1938


Having faithfully served University of Florida students

for sixty-seven years, Floyd Hall has a full and rich history

comparable to that of the university itself. Because the Uni-

versity of Florida's establishment was based primarily upon

the College of Agriculture, and because Floyd Hall was built

to house the College of Agriculture, the structure has great

significance to the University of Florida. However, to fully

appreciate the significance of Floyd Hall, we must first brief-

ly examine the history of the university.

When Florida was admitted to the Union in 1845 two semi-

naries were planned for the new state. The East Florida Semi-

nary was established in Ocala in 1852 and moved to Gainesville

in 1866. The West Florida Seminary was established in Talla-

hassee in 1856. In 1883 an agricultural college was founded,

and by 1904 Florida had six different state-supported colleges

and universities. Because each school aggressively competed

for state funds, a merger was proposed and approved by the

state legislature in the Buckman Act of 1905. This act estab-

lished three schools within the state: Florida Female College in

Tallahassee (later to become Florida State University); Florida

A&M College for black students, also in Tallahassee; and the

University of the State of Florida (now called the University of

Florida). Although Lake City competed for the site location of

the University of Florida, Gainesville was choose. Soon there-

after construction started on the newly chosen site and the

University of Florida was born.

On September 11, 1911 a meeting of the State Board of Con-

trols and Education in Tallahassee determined that the Univer-

sity of Florida was in need of two new buildings a dining

hall and a new agriculture building. Because W. A. Edwards, an

Atlanta architect, had already designed several other buildings

on the campus, he was called on again to submit plans for the

new agriculture building.2 The construction contract was

awarded to Halladay and Crouse of Greensboro, North Carolina

for a bid of $39,88, and the Gainesville Hardware Company won

the heating contract for a bid of $3,658.3

Figure 1.

W. A. Edwards' 1905 plan for the University of
Florida campus.

The decision to construct the Agriculture Building (now

Floyd Hall) fit perfectly into the campus general plan of 1905,

which was prepared by W. A. Edwards while with Edwards and Wal-

ter (based out of Columbia, South Carolina). Edwards' plan for

the Agriculture Building called for a three-story structure,

115 feet by 65 feet, with concrete foundations, brick load-

bearing walls, wooden floors and a wooden roof. The building

was to consist of 20,180 square feet. He planned for the build-

ing to house classrooms, laboratories, a general assembly hall,

and offices for Agronomy and Animal Husbandry.4

Construction of the Agriculture Building began in the early

part of 1912, and Edwards, then based out of Atlanta, made

monthly visits to the site in order to help supervise the work

of Halladay and Crouse.5 Construction was completed by Septem-

ber of 1912, and equipment for the structure cost .$5,013. On

September 15 the College of Agriculture moved into its new home.6

W. A. Edwards, the designer of the Agriculture Building,

designed all of the university's original buildings, and twelve

of these thirteen are still standing today. l/illiam A. Edwards

was born on December 8, 1866 in Darlington, South Carolina. He

was raised in Darlington and attended his freshman year of col-

lege at Richmond College of Virginia. He then transferred to

the University of South Carolina, which he graduated from in

1889 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. His architectural ex-

perience started as either a draftsman or partner working with

C. C. Wdilson of Roanoke, Virginia. In 1893 he began practice

as a member of Wilson and Edwards, and in 1896 the firm relocat-

ed in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1902 Edwards left Wilson and

started Edwards and Walter, also in Columbia. This firm moved

to Atlanta in 1908, but in 1911 the partnership dissolved and he

worked independently for a short period of time.7

At this time Edwards began work on the Agriculture Build-

ing. This structure was no major deviation from his other de-

signs for the campus, as all were of the "Collegiate Gothic"

style. From the beginning of Edwards' work at the University of

Florida, P. K. Yonge, Chairman of the State Board of Controls,

assisted in establishing the desired characteristics of the uni-

versity's architecture, which would reflect the school's ideology.

Figure 2.

The Agriculture Building, typical of Edwards'
"Collegiate Gothic" style, shortly after comple-
tion. Note the newly planted shrubbery.

Other campus structures which Edwards designed include: Thomas

Hall (1906), University Commons/Johnson Hall (1909), Science

Hall/Flint Hall (1910), Experiment Station/Newell Hall (1910),

Engineering Hall (1910) later demolished, Peabody Hall

(1913), and the College of Law/Bryan Hall (1914).8
In 1912 Edwards joined William J. Sayward to form Edwards

and Sayward. This firm enjoyed a very distinguished career,

including projects at the following sites: Florida A&M College

(1913-1925), Florida State College for Women (1912-1925),

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind St. Augustine (1913-

1923), Gainesville High School (1920), Hotel Thomas Gaines-

ville (1921-1925), and the Dade County Courthouse (1938).9

Edwards continued his work with Sayward until March 30, 1939,

the time of his death.10

The Agriculture Building proved to be a great asset to the

university, as agriculture was a very important element of the

University of Florida. Between 1922 and 1923 only 15.7% of

Florida residents pursuing a career in agriculture migrated to

other states for their education. This compares to 58.7% for

graduate students migrating elsewhere, 35.1% for Liberal Arts,

55.7% for Engineering, and 100% for Medicine, Dentistry, Phar-
macy and Theology.11

The Agriculture Building served a variety of vital func-
tions. One 1920s account stated that the first floor consisted


a large implement room containing plows, harrows,
rakes, windmills, gas engines, ect.... Nearby is the
stock judging room. It is so arranged that cattle


or horses may be led in, placed on scales and weighed,
and judged by the class arranged in the amphitheatred
seats. (Also on the first floor)...deans office and
an immense dairy laboratory...(second floor):...soil
physics laboratories...close by...field crops room...
next (to this) the chapel...(used for the University's
daily exercises)...(third floor)...live agricultural
club social room.

Figure 3.

The Agriculture Building, circa 1918, served
a vital function for the university during
its early years.

As time progressed, school enrollment climbed steadily,

and with this growth came change. In the Fall of 1918, with

the demand created by military training courses during World

War I, many rooms of the Agriculture Building were divided in-

to smaller classrooms, and the chapel was moved into the com-

mons.13 In order to accommodate the expanding size of classes,

the construction of new buildings and the major alteration of

older buildings was considered for much of the campus. The

Agriculture Building did not escape such consideration. In

Rudolph Weaver's 1930 plan for the university an addition was

scheduled for the south facade of the Agriculture Building.14


Figure 4.

Weaver's 1930 plan for the campus included an
addition to the south facade of the Agriculture

As alternative uses for the Agriculture Building were pondered

by school officials, enrollment continued to climb beyond the

projections of many. One such projection in 1932 speculated

that the "University may be expected to have an enrollment of

not less than 6,000 students by 1980."15 In 1921, nine years

after the Agriculture Building's erection, the university had

only 1,000 students. However, in 1936 that number had grown to

3,000 students, and by 1947 the University of Florida prema-

turely hit the 6,000 mark.16 Because of piecemeal expansions

over the years, the College of Agriculture consisted of various

scattered buildings, so by the 1940s the college was in need of

a larger, more cohesive complex. In 1947 a suggestion was made

to vacate the Agriculture Building for a newly constructed build-

ing near the Experimental Station. The university was even suc-

cessful in getting the state to authorize funds for such a move,

but these funds were still in need of allocation.17 Thus, the

Agriculture Building, despite university officials' efforts, re-

mained the prime facility of the College of Agriculture for some

years to come.

In August of 1949 eight University of Florida buildings
were renamed in honor of great Floridians. At this time the

Agriculture Building was renamed as Floyd Hall in honor of Major

Wilbur L. Floyd, a veteran faculty member of the university.

Floyd was born in Nichols, South Carolina in 1866. He received

his BS from the Citadel in 1886 and served as an instructor of

Horticulture at the East Florida Seminary in Ocala from 1892 to

1896. In 1902 he completed one year of graduate studies at


Harvard, and in 1906 he finished his MS degree at the Universi-

ty of Florida.19 He then became an instructor at the Universi-

ty of Florida and served as the Assistant Dean to the College

of Agriculture from 1915 to 1938.20 Thus, because of his sig-

nificant role within the College of Agriculture, the renaming

of the Agriculture Building in honor o( Floyd was certainly ap-


Figure 5.

Wilbur L. Floyd served as an instructor of Horti-
culture at the East Florida Seminary in Ocala be-
tween 1892 and 1896.

After years of administrative indecision the university

finally decided to house the College of Agriculture in a new

facility, and Floyd Hall was vacated in 1956. Soon thereafter

the Department of Geology moved into the building. Although a

new use had been found for Floyd Hall, the structures exis-

tence was still threatened. In a 1973 edition of the school

newspaper, The Alligator, it was stated by school officials

that "Peabody and Floyd Halls are expected to be replaced by a

general purpose office and classroom building in the central

campus."21 Fortunately, another nearby site was chosen for

the general purpose building and both of these structures were

spared. General Purpose Building A was completed in 1977, and

at that ime the Department of Geology moved out of Floyd Hall

and the College of Architecture moved in.22

However, the future of Floyd Hall still underwent great

debate. Many wanted to see the historic building demolished

for replacement by a newer facility. A space study conducted

by the university concluded that Floyd Hall was "no longer

worth renovating and completely inadequate for educational pur-

poses..." and "it should be replaced."23 The same study con-

cluded that twenty-six other campus buildings should be de-

stroyed, in addition to the currently-thriving Seagle Building

located downtown. However, a much more in-depth evaluation of

Floyd Hall by a South Florida engineering firm in October of

1978 concluded that the building was structurally sound.24

The study also found that the interior, if need be, could be

gutted and rebuilt to meet general classroom needs for nearly

J90,000 less than the cost of a new building.25


Figure 6. Floyd Hall has seen a number of uses since the

The major threat to Floyd Hall has been the proposed ex-

pansion of the adjacently located Chemistry Building. A plan

for the Chemistry Department calls for the acquisition of 13,000

additional square feet. Karl Thorne, Associate Professor of

Architecture and chairman of the university's preservation com-

mittee, conducted a space analysis of Floyd Hall in light of the

Chemistry Department's plan. The fact that Thorne found nearly

13,000 net assignable square feet in Floyd Hall adds further to

the irony of demolition proposals.26

On June 27, 197(9 the true architectural and historical sig-


nificance of Floyd Hall was formally recognized by its designa-

tion to the National Register of Historic Places.27 However,

this honor did not guarantee the protection of the building.

During the same year the College of Architecture, after a brief Qo

eighteen month' left Floyd Hall for a new structure.28 The

building was then boarded up in April of 1979 and thereafter

only used for light storage.29 In 1981 a decision was finally

reached by the campus planning assembly to demolish Floyd Hall,

but the building was spared by a last minute appeal by the uni-

versity's preservation committee on May 27 of the same year.30

Figure 7.

This photograph of Floyd Hall, taken in 1928,
reflects the fine craftsmanship and architec-
tural detailing which made this structure
worthy of National Register designation.

Today the future of Floyd Hall is still questionable.

Will this significant structure be readapted to a new use, or

will it fall victim to the wrecking ball? In a 1981 article

appearing in the Gainesville Sun, Architecture Professor Karl

Thorne commented that "The plan was to build and fill in when

the university was designed, not build and tear down to re-

build."1 For the preservation of the Univeristy of Florida's

historical and architectural integrity, it is hoped that of-

ficials will adhere to that plan, and that Floyd Hall will

stand in perpituity as a noble reminder of the university's

rich heritage.


Brian Bowman, Historic Building Survey: University of
Florida, (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, 1973), p. iii.

2Ibid., p. 19.





p. 20.

p. 19.

p. 20.

p. v.

8Mark P. Johnson, Floyd Hall Thesis (Gainesville, FL:
University of Florida, 1982), p. 7.

9Bowman, p. vii.

10Ibid., p. v.

11William T. Arnett, A Study of the Campus Planning
Problem at the University oT orida Thesis (Gainesville,
FL: University of Florida, 1932), p. 53.

Bowman, p. 20.

13Johnson, p. 5.



p. 64.

p. 98.

16The Building Program of the University of Florida,
(St. Augustine, FL: Record Press, Inc., 1947), p. 2.

17Ibid., p. 15.

18"Eight University of Florida Buildings Renamed to
Honor Floridian," Gainesville Sun, (Gainesville, FL, Aug. 28,
1949), -.page unknown.

19The Seminole of the University of Florida Annual,
Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, 1931), p. 26.

2Or"Eight University..." page unknown.

21"Campus to be Reconstructed, Renovated," Alligator,
(Gainesville, FL, Jan.17, 1973), page unknown.

22"70-Year-Old Building May Be Demolished," Gainesville
Sun, (Gainesville, FL, March 9, 1982), page unknown.

2The SWace Story at the University of Florida, date,
publisher, location unknown p. 2.

24"70-Year-Old...," page unknown

25"Proctor Fights for Floyd Hall," Gainesville Sun,
(Gainesville, FL, March 4, 1981), p. 1B.

26"70-Year-Old...," page unknown.

27A Guide to National Register Sites in Florida, (Tallahas-
see, FL: Florida Department of State, Division of Archives,
History and Records Management Bureau of Historic Preservation,
May, 1984), p. 6.

28"70-Year-Old...," page unknown.

29"Proctor Fights...," p. 13.

30"Floyd Hall to Stand a While Longer," Gainesville Sun,
(Gainesville, FL, May 28, 1981), p. 2B.

31"Proctor Fights...," p. 1B.


The Alligator, "Campus to be Reconstructed, Renovated,"
Gainesville, FL, Jan. 17, 1973.

Arnett, William T. A Stud of the Campus Planning Problem at
the University of Florida, thesis, Gainesville, FL: Uni-
versity of Florida, 1932.

Bowman, Brian, Historic Building Survey: University of Florida
Campus, thesis, Gainesville, FL: University of Florida,

Churchill, Henry S. "Henry S. Churchill Report," Gainesville,
FL: University of Florida, Committee on Planning and
Policies, 1956.

Gainesville Sun, Gainesville, FL:
"Eight University of Florida Buildings Renamed to
Honor Floridians," Aug.28, 1949.
"Floyd Hall to Stand a While Longer," May 28, 1981.
"Proctor Fights for Floyd Hall," March 4, 1981.
"70-Year-Old Building May Be Demolished," March 9, 1982.

Johnson, Mark K. Floyd Hall, thesis, Gainesville, FL: Univer-
sity of Florida, 1982.

"Number and Type of Buildings at the University of Florida,'
University of Florida, Office of Academic Services, 1967.

The Building Program of the University of Florida, St. Augustine,
FL: Record Press, Inc., 1947.

The Seminole of the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL:
University of Florida, 19317

"The Space Story at the University of Florida," date, publish-
er, ect. unknown.

University of Florida Archives, photograph collection.