Thomas Hall, Gainesville, FL
Thomas Hall, built in 1905, is a historic building on the campus of the University of Florida.
On June 5, 1905, Governor Napoleon B. Broward of Florida signed into law a bill which provided for the consolidation of several of the state’s existing institutions of higher learning into a single university for men and a college for women. This law, called the Buckman Act in honor of its sponsor, did not stipulate the location of the newly created, all-male University of the State of Florida. Two communities in middle Florida, Lake City and Gainesville, quickly emerged as the leading prospects in the ensuing competition for selection of a site. A brief but brisk campaign was conducted on behalf of each town by influential citizens. On July 6, 1905, the state Boards of Education and Control meeting in joint session selected Gainesville as the site of the new school.
The chairman of the committee which led the campaign to secure the University of Florida for Gainesville was William Reuben Thomas, Mayor of the city from April, 1901, to April, 1907. A native of Gainesville where he had been born in 1866, Mayor Thomas was in 1905 a successful and respected businessman. To acknowledge and honor his efforts in the locating of the University of Florida, one of the first buildings on the new campus was named Thomas Hall.
In the late summer of 1905, a South Carolina architectural firm, Edwards and Walters, was appointed to prepare a campus plan. Before the end of the year, construction had begun on the two dormitories which had been given priority in the building program. The larger of the two buildings was to be Thomas Hall. By mid-August, 1906, the lower floors of both Thomas Hall and its companion, Buckman Hall (named in honor of the author of the university consolidation bill), were ready. On September 27, the official dedication day for the new university, the two buildings were open for inspection. In addition to dormitory units in the central section, Thomas Hall also contained the original office of the President, some classrooms, and a temporary dining hall. When separate buildings were provided for the other functions, Thomas Hall was given over entirely to dormitory service. Many prominent Floridians who received their college education at the University of Florida in Gainesville were residents in Thomas Hall during their campus careers.
Thomas Hall is a National Register of Historic Places.