"The University Auditorium, originally known as the Memorial Auditorium and sometimes called the University of Florida Auditorium, is an historic building on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, in the United States. It was designed by William Augustus Edwards in the Collegiate Gothic style and was built between 1922-1924. It was restored and expanded in 1977 by architect James McGinley. The expansion, which added a new entrance and lobbies, was designed to complement but not match the original architecture. It is a contributing property in the University of Florida Campus Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 20, 1989.
William Edward's University Chapel-Auditorium was planned in the early 1920s to be the first unit of an imposing central University administrative building with a massive bell tower. His design is clearly patterned after London's 11th-century Westminster Hall and 19th-century Central Lobby in the Houses of Parliament, and also appropriates some features seen in Proctor Hall, the 1913 graduate dining hall at Princeton University designed by Ralph Adams Cram. The striking auditorium interior is unique in its application of a 14th-century hammerbeam ceiling to a cruciform structure. Each hammerbeam end presents one symbol of the 'land-grant quadrivium:' the Scholar wears a four-cornered cap reminiscent of a 5th-century square nimbus; the Musician strokes a Greek lyre; the Engineer lifts a notched gear; and the Athlete sports a leather football helmet. In each of the two large windows above the east and west transept balconies, six scholars depicted in early 20th-century Art Deco style overlook the audience space.
Andrew Anderson Memorial Organ
University President Albert Murphree received $50,000 for the organ from Dr. Andrew Anderson, a St. Augustine physician, philanthropist, and associate of early Florida developer Henry Flagler. The spacious interior of the University Auditorium, with its elaborate wood-carvings and roomy galleries, offered a congenial home. Tonal plans for Florida were prepared by William Zeuch of Boston's famous Skinner Organ Company, which built and installed the original instrument in early 1925. The organ was first played publicly on June 7th, 1925, at the annual University Commencement Convocation. A musical landmark for its day, the organ was designed and voiced at the zenith of orchestral-imitative or "symphonic" organ design in this country, and is mentioned in such reference works as Orpha Ochse's The History of the Organ in the United States and Charles Callahan's The American Classic Organ. It was heard frequently through the 1930s in recitals by Claude Murphree, University Organist, as well as in early broadcasts over the University's "new" radio station, WRUF. An elaborate organ façade was also designed by the architect, but was never built.
In the early 1960s the Æolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston began a program of mechanical renovation and tonal rehabilitation to repair damage caused by the ravages of time and neglected maintenance, and the M. P. Moller Organ Company continued the careful work of restoring the organ to its former excellence as a teaching and recital instrument. Today the Andrew Anderson Memorial Organ, with 99 ranks and nearly 5400 pipes, is one of the largest recital instruments in the United States, with a major place in the musical life of this community of scholars.
The University of Florida Auditorium today is a performing arts venue which seats up to 843 people. It has a concert stage, and is used for musical concerts, lectures, convocations, and pageants. Its director is Michael Blachly."
A plaque near the auditorium reads:
"The cornerstone for the University Auditorium was laid in 1922. Complete with a fine pipe organ given by Dr. Andrew Anderson of St. Augustine, the building was dedicated in 1925. The architectural firm of Edwards and Sayward designed this elegant Collegiate Gothic structure with a cathedral-like interior and a lofty tower as the centerpiece of the campus. Phase I of the project was built without the tower. A tower reminiscent of the original design now standing to the west was completed in 1955. Through the years chapel services, classes, convocations, commencement ceremonies, dance recitals, musical and dramatic events, and lectures by many distinguished scholars and public figures have been presented here. The University Auditorium building was not considered complete until the north wing, designed by James McGinley, was added in 1976-77."