A Farewell to (the College) Arms

 

The purpose of this blog post is not to decry the demolition – already in progress – of the College Arms Apartments.  Rather, it’s to offer a brief requiem, only fitting for a lovely building of quality design and construction that has graced our community since 1935. collegearms5

The four-unit apartment building at the corner of Holt and New York Avenues was designed by well-known architect Harold Hair, “to harmonize with the nearby college buildings,” according to the January 25, 1936 edition of “Winter Park Topics.”  A contemporary of James Gamble Rogers, Hair also designed a number of prominent residences including the 1934 Spanish Eclectic house at 500 Interlachen Avenue (on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places) and the 1927 Gary-Morgan House (named last year to the National Register of Historic Places), as well as the Beal-Maltbie Shell Museum on the Rollins campus.

 

500 N. Interlachen

500 N. Interlachen

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The Gary-Morgan House

 

A gracious entry hall and stairwell lead to four apartments:  two have two bedrooms; two have one. All feature brick fireplaces with wood mantles, original wood floors and plaster walls, and exposed knotty pine beams in the living rooms.   Two of the apartments have glassed-in sunrooms on the Southern exposure.

The exterior of the building boasts an attention to detail and scale absent in most many modern day buildings.  For example, a four unit apartment building constructed today would rarely have the variety of window shapes and sizes, decorative balconies, decorative plasterwork or even the varied articulation that adorn the College Arms. The structure is an homage to a time when details mattered, even on a small rental building.  Early photos show a beautiful barrel-tile roof which was replaced in recent decades.

The building was privately owned until 1969, when Rollins purchased it to expand housing options for students. Until that time the building even had a small backyard pool and nursery. Rollins Vice President John Tiedtke had an office on the first floor of the building from 1973 until his death in 2004; Campus Safety was also briefly located there.  For a time, the upstairs units housed a program called “Holt House,” a group of male and female students who created their own curriculum.
college arms6 (2)

As we go to press, the building is being demolished to make way for a new campus Child Development Center.  The College has taken care to preserve the decorative medallions like the one at left, which have been removed from the building.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Farewell to (the College) Arms

  1. While the loss of older buildings with history and great meaning to the community and Rollins College can be sad and is troubling to some; memorializing some of the history and usage in words and pictures in some way ‘saves’ them for historic purposes; their obituary so to speak. Nicely done….I guess 🙂

    • jimthesoundman

      I always find it hard to believe that it is impossible to save an existing building like this and just add on an additional newer structure to the back. I’ve seen several houses in Winter Park where this was done, and it always makes me happy that someone cares enough to preserve the existing structure instead of just bashing it down and starting from dirt again.
      I’m sure they will eventually bash down Beal-Maltbie also. It’s small and old, and although they have done a nice job converting it to classrooms and office space, eventually someone will say it’s got to go. I think the main problem is Rollins is landlocked and has no where to expand outwards anymore, and they have bought all they can buy of the adjoining land, so the only place they can go is upwards. So old buildings are doomed, unfortunately. You can’t really fault them, they are a business and they have to serve their customers the best way that they can.

  2. Gordon H. Blitch

    Thanks, Betsy, for that nice obituary/memorial. I live directly across Holt Avenue from the structure and have enjoyed its loveliness since 1998, while expanding and improving my even-older home from the 1920s. I have researched the building and taken pictures to further my enjoyment of this good neighbor while it survived. While our historic neighborhood was working recently with Rollins College to reach an agreement for the design and operation of their new Child Development Center on the site, we suggested to them to try to preserve the building facade if nothing else, but they found that plan incompatible with their needs. I am sure their new building will be a lovely college building, but we will miss our old friend.

  3. Judy Kurtz

    My husband and I stayed briefly in one of the apartments in the College Arms during a year when he was on sabbatical (in the 1990’s) and we had come back to Winter Park for a brief visit. Our house was rented out so we couldn’t stay there. At the time the building wasn’t well cared for and was dirty – not kept up. Probably there were not sufficient funds to take care of it at that time.

    We were residents of the College Quarter Neighborhood, and the College Arms has been in the past an important architectural element upon entering the neighborhood at Holt and French Avenues. I would have hoped that it could be saved and enhanced, but that is evidently not to be. The building had good “bones” and could have been polished into a real jewel. We return to Winter Park from Vermont each spring for a visit. Each time I pass the borders into Winter Park, I say to my husband “I love this place”. When we arrive next spring for our annual visit, I shall miss the College Arms and its position of importance at the entrance to the College Quarter Neighborhood. I hope that the building which is put in its place will earn recognition as an attractive and well designed replacement for “The Grand Old Lady”.

    Judy Kurtz
    Concord, Vermont

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