Also known as the Horticulture Building on the University of Florida’s campus.
Rolfs Hall, constructed in 1927 as the Horticultural Building, is significant architecturally as one of the twelve existing Collegiate Gothic style buildings designed by William A. Edwards which formed the core of the University of Florida campus in the early 20th century. In addition, it is historically significant for its role in the development of the University’s Agricultural Education and Extension Services programs.
The history of Florida agricultural education began in Lake City with the opening in 1884 of the State College of Agriculture. In 1888 the Agricultural Experiment Station was founded as a division of the college in response to the Hatch Act of 1887. In 1905 the state legislature provided for the consolidation of the state’s existing institutions of higher learning into a single university for men. Following the designation of Gainesville as the location for the institution, the agricultural facilities were relocated to become a part of the new University of Florida campus. Peter Henry Rolfs was named as Dean of the College of Agriculture.
Rolfs grew up on a farm in Iowa, and received his Master of Science Degree from Iowa State College of Agriculture in 1891. He began his professional career at Clerason University and the South Carolina Experiment Station, but in 1892 accepted appointment as a horticulturalist and biologist at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station at Lake City, and by 1896 had made a major contribution to the control of disease in fruit trees. From 1901 to 1906, he served as plant pathologist for the United States Department of Agriculture Subtropical Laboratory in Miami, leaving that post to serve as Dean of the College of Agriculture, University of Florida from 1906 to 1920.
In 1912 the State Plant Board was formed to pursue methods of wiping out the then rampant citrus canker, and was organized as a part of the agricultural education framework. In 1915 the Agricultural Extension Service was founded as provided by the Smith Lever Act of 1914. As Dean of Agriculture, Rolfs also served as the Director of the Experiment Station, Director of the Extension Service, and State Plant Board Commissioner. Following his resignation from the University of Florida, Rolfs continued his professional career in Brazil, where he founded the Ecola Superior de Agricultura y Veterinaria.
Rolfs Hall is a National Register of Historic Places.
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