Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Founders Liberal Arts Building

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Institution Name: Jacksonville University
Original/Historic Place Name: Founders Liberal Arts Building
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1950original construction Kemp, Bunch & Jackson
Designer: Kemp, Bunch & Jackson
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII, Regionalist/Vernacular, Other (Glossary)
Significance: education, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete slab
Walls: brick
Roof: flat, rolled roof with tar
ca. 1950classrooms
ca. 1950administration (administrative offices and board room)
ca. 2004-present (2006)administration (office space for information technology, public safety, Upward Bound, school of education, duplicating office, writing center and other support services)

Founders Building was designed with students in mind and built for their convenience rather than for the convenience of the faculty. It is a one-story structure that was attractive and functional, with crab orchard stone walkways and a 112-foot by 101-foot patio. Landscaping was made possible by the generosity of Mrs. Leah G. Swisher, whose husband, Carl, began his service on the Board of Trustees in 1943 and at the time of construction was Chairman of the Board. Mr. Swisher donated $100,000 toward the total cost of $250,000. Mrs. Swisher donated flowers, shrubs, and trees and paid for much of the labor. The building's name was selected to honor the nearly 1,000 people who made both large and small donations toward the cost of construction. It is important to note that the Founders Building is located just about where it appears on the original master plan.

The building is a significant example of an open courtyard and imposing facade with an entranceway with a decorative metal screen. Ornamental ironwork adorns the covered porticoes on all four interior sides of the building. The building is now at almost the exact center of the campus as it expands to the north.

When first constructed, Founder's served the university well. Within the last 10 years, however, problems have developed ranging from the need for a new interior spatial configuration to heating and air conditioning replacement. It is an important building for its role in the campus history. Currently, the University is seeking to secure historical designation for the building and will subsequently begin a renovation that focuses on maintaining the integrity of the structure. Without it the school would lose a significant part of its campus heritage.


Bald, Ralph D. 4 Decades of Growth. Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville University Office of Public Relations, 1975.

Bald, Ralph D., Jr. A History of Jacksonville University, The First Twenty-Five Years, 1934-1959. Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville University, 1959.

Hallam, George. Our Place in the Sun, A History of Jacksonville University. Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville University, 1988.

"History of Jacksonville University. Descriptions of the University--Photographs." [n.d.] Carl S. Swisher Library, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL.

Middleton, Bill. "McGully's Gulch: Where It Began." Florida-Times Union, October 23, 1951.


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Last update: November 2006