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.
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.
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.
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.