Peabody Hall, Gainesville, FL
Opened in 1913, and was the predecessor of the College of Education at the University of Florida. Peabody Hall is historically significant as the first concrete evidence of partnership between a major philanthropic organization and a state-supported institution of higher learning in Florida. The Peabody grant of forty thousand dollars for construction of a teachers’ college was the first major gift bestowed upon the University of Florida after its foundation in Gainesville. During the early years of the twentieth century, many foundations preferred not to endow programs at public colleges and universities because they feared that their support would result in lessened appropriations from penurious state legislatures.
The gift of monies from the George Peabody Foundation was a credit to the persuasive talents of the first president of the University of Florida, A. A. Murphree. He initiated discussions with the Peabody Foundation in 1911 and pursued the project to its completion, the opening of Peabody Hall, in 1913. In return, he aided in the successful attempt to have the Board of Control expend ten thousand dollars yearly for perpetual maintenance of the education school. Thus, Peabody Hall represents a cooperative effort of the George Peabody Foundation and the State of Florida, mediated by Murphree, to construct, then support a visible symbol of commitment to the education of the state’s youth.
Peabody Hall remained the home of the education college for many years. It also contained a psychological laboratory, the presses of the Florida Alligator, and the library collection until the completion of a Library Building. In later years the College of Architecture, and the history, political science, economics and sociology departments used Peabody Hall for faculty offices and classes.