Preservation Annual Meeting is Sunday June 30!

Florence Hall and the Heritage Buildings of SMU

Florence Hall and the Heritage Buildings of SMU

SMU Main Campus

The Southern Methodist University main campus was carefully planned in 1911 by its founding president Robert S. Hyer who desired to create a campus that was planned for the future and would not necessitate the removal of buildings as the campus expanded. He created Bishop Boulevard as a grand avenue from Mockingbird Lane to lead to the pinnacle of campus, Dallas Hall, which was completed in 1915.

Between 1915 and 1928 a group of ten structures were built in the Georgian Revival style as the earliest buildings constructed on campus. They were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 due to the significance of the extensively planned campus using the Georgian Revival style popular at the time. The structures listed on National Register include: Dallas Hall, Clements Hall, Florence Hall, McFarlin Auditorium, Hyer Hall, Perkins Hall, Ownby Stadium (demolished), Snider Hall, Virginia Hall, and Patterson Hall. All relate to one another with their placement on campus and their Georgian Revival style with uniform scale and height, well-proportioned symmetrical compositions, red brick with white trim, multi-paned windows, and decorative Georgian motifs and elements applied in wood and cast stone.

Over time the campus grew in phases following the original campus plan for buildings and for the most part carried forward the design principals of the early buildings. As a university that is continuing to grow there is increased pressure on the older heritage buildings for replacement with larger and more up-to-date facilities for the students. An example of the threat those buildings face is Florence Hall, which is being considered for replacement. It was constructed in 1924 to serve as the home of the SMU School of Theology and was originally named Kirby Hall. It was renamed Florence Hall in 1951 when it was converted to serve the School of Law, which has plans to replace the building with a new larger facility once funds are raised. The demolition of one of the earliest campus buildings would be a terrible loss. SMU has done an excellent job of renovating Dallas Hall and McFarlin Auditorium and we hope that they could do the same with Florence Hall.

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