Roper Park / Old City Park
Roper Park, Gainesville, FL
Roper Park is the original site of the parade grounds (in front of this site) and barracks (behind this site) for the East Florida Seminary, a non-sectarian educational institute and a forerunner of the University of Florida. James H. Roper (1835-1883) moved to Gainesville in 1856 and founded the first school, the Gainesville Academy. The Gainesville Academy moved to this site in 1857. Roper, a member of the State Senate in 1865-66 and the Board of Education, engineered the relocation of the East Florida Seminary to Gainesville by donating his school’s building and site in 1866. He was the president for the first two years. The barracks for the East Florida Seminary were built on this site in 1886. The two-story frame building had a double veranda along the south side, and a two-story porch surrounded an open courtyard in its center. Out-of-town students lived in 45 rooms that contained two iron beds with moss mattresses and feather pillows, a study table, a washstand, and a stove. The City of Gainesville purchased the block in 1906. In 1907, Gainesville’s mayor bought the barracks and added them to the nearby White House Hotel.