$3 Million Gift Will Trigger Restoration of Historic Flint and Anderson Halls  


Taken shortly after the building's completion, this photo illustrates the dramatic effect Flint Hall had on the (then sparse) UF campus.  

*NOTE:  Click on smaller pictures of Flint Hall (below) to link to bigger images with captions.   

After 20 years of vacancy and decay, Flint Hall (1910) will finally get the renovations needed to restore its grandeur and integrity.  Kenneth Keene (Math '47) and his wife, Janet, recently made the University a $3 million gift to initiate the project.  With the addition of state matching and added capital improvement funds, the Keenes' generosity will actually yield over $18 million, enabling the concurrent renovation of Anderson Hall (1913), Flint's eastern counterpart. "The Keenes wanted their gift to have a significant impact on both the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the University of Florida as a whole," explains CLAS Associate Dean Chuck Frazier.  "By writing Anderson into the proposal, we were able to generate additional state funds, dramatically increasing the potential benefits."  

     Flint and Anderson, two of the 13 original campus buildings designed by architect William Edwards, were intended to serve as "gateposts" to the university, and for many years--with their striped awnings and ivy-covered walls--they indeed formed a stately entrance to campus.  Both historic UF buildings were slated for demolition in the late 1970s, but a local group of concerned preservationists helped facilitate the buildings' entry into the national registry of historic places, saving them from destruction. 
     "Science Hall," as Flint was first called, initially housed the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Botany, Zoology, Horticulture, and Bacteriology, as well as the Florida State Museum.  After securing several impressive collections of Florida fish, birds, reptiles and mammals and Native American artifacts, history and art, the museum relocated to the John F. Seagle Building in the 1930s.  Biology and Zoology continued to maintain offices in Flint until 1974, when the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the College of Architecture began using the building to supplement their space needs. 

     The historic character of Flint Hall was substantially damaged with a late 1950s renovation designed to maximize square footage.  The north, south and west entrances were bricked up, and the two-story stairwells were converted to one-story units for additional classroom and office space.  The original Gothic vaulted ceiling and arched entryway were destroyed, and composite columns, carved woodwork, ornamental plasterwork and the formal entry hall and stairs were all removed.  Terra cotta ornamentation on the exterior surrounding the north entrance was also done away with. 

     After continued decay, Flint Hall was condemned in 1978 by the State Fire Marshall, who prohibited its use as an instructional facility until numerous code violations had been corrected.  The building has remained vacant since then, although various departments have used portions of the building for storage. 
     "Language Hall," as Anderson was originally known, was the first home of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as the library, book store, president's office, and registrar.  Similar to Flint, Anderson has decayed over the years, and although a "phased renovation" began in 1993, progress has been painfully slow due to a shortage of funding.  Thus far, Anderson has received an updated transformer, computer wiring and a fire-rated stair tower on the west side.  The north entrance--which, like the original grand entrances to Flint Hall, had been blocked off decades ago in efforts to salvage additional classroom space--has also been restored to its original state, complete with maple landing and stairway up to the first floor.  
     But this progress is minor considering the amount of work necessary to properly and completely renovate historic Anderson.  Fortunately, the Keenes' gift will allow a "full restoration of both buildings," says Frazier, so that along with maximizing useful space, "all architecturally significant features will be preserved and /or restored."  Additionally, the fire-damaged third floor of Anderson, boarded up since the 1971 blaze which badly damaged it, will finally be rebuilt for classroom and office space, and a new elevator tower and stairs will allow Anderson to meet Americans With Disabilities Act and fire code standards for the first time. 

     Because Anderson and Flint are part of the historic northeast quadrant of campus (where the majority of libraries, teaching departments and classrooms are still located), UF Provost Betty Capaldi put a priority on securing funding for them.  "They will be wonderful classroom/office buildings in a location where we really need them," she says. 

     The dual renovation of Anderson and Keene-Flint Halls addresses serious CLAS problems (decaying facilities and the need for additional teaching space) while also alleviating a major UF pressure:  increasing enrollment and the resulting shortage of classroom and instructional support facilities.  Since CLAS is a central part of UF's instructional program, the Keenes' gift will indeed have the major significance they'd hoped for.  

     New and improved "Keene-Flint" and Anderson Halls are scheduled for completion in the year 2000.  The project's benefactors, who have already endowed a scholarship fund and donated money for a faculty center in Dauer Hall, are modest about their contributions. "Our principal motivation," says Ken Keene, "is to help provide proper educational opportunities for future UF students." 

Alumni CLAS notes is published twice a year by the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for its alumni and friends.  Please send all correspondence to the Editor, 2014 Turlington Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, call 352/392-1516 or e-mail jgibson@clas.ufl.edu  

Director of Development 

Willard W. Harrison 
M. Jane Gibson 
L. Carter Boydstun 
Gracy Feiber Castine

The University of Florida College of Liberal Arts & Sciences   

Spring 1998  


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