Florida Southern College was recently granted $400,000 from the state of Florida’s Division of Historical Resources in an effort to preserve the legendary architecture work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Included in this project is a major grant to restore the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel back to the original state it was in back in 1941.
“The intent is to restore the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel back to its original appearance, as close as possible, using of course 21st century materials and systems,” Mark Tlachac, FSC tour director, said. “It will restore the appearance back to what it looked like, but probably even more important, it will restore some of the deterioration of some of the textile blocks.”
Two grants were awarded to FSC for this project, both of which must be matched dollar-to-dollar by the college. This means that $800,000 total will be spent within the next two years to ensure that Frank Lloyd Wright architecture will remain prevalent on FSC’s campus.
The grants are administered by the division’s Bureau of Historic Preservation and assisted by the Florida Historical Commission.
The grants include $50,000 for the repair of the decorative textile blocks of the chapel and $350,000 to restore the interior to its original appearance.
The $50,000 grant, however, has a 6-month completion requirement, and the chapter interior restoration grant will expire in June 2015.
There will be some major differences from the way the chapel currently looks to how it is going to look once the project is complete.
Some of these differences are that the seats will completely go away and be replaced with replicas of Wright’s original seating, the tile floor will come up and the original concrete floor will be restored. Also, the two glass alcoves will go away, the original wood glass double-doors will be restored and the podium area will be expanded.
Another major difference is that the air conditioning unit will be completely hidden from sight.
FSC has previously received grants from the Division of Historical Resources as a part of the Frank Lloyd Wright restoration project as well. Some of the other projects include the Water Dome and the Theatre-in-the-Round, which were restored to their original conditions back in 2007 and 2009.
So why is the restoration and preservation of Wright’s architecture so important to FSC? The FSC campus is the single largest site of a collection of Wright’s architecture. Not only was Wright responsible for the campus buildings, but he was also responsible for the entire plan of the campus.
His plans began shortly after his visit to campus back in 1938. He envisioned a great number of buildings, more so than were actually constructed, a water dome, which is perhaps FSC’s most well-known feature, and a connected network of esplanades, or in simpler terms, covered walkways.
“We want to restore all of Mr. Wright’s structures back as close as possible to their original appearance,” Tlachac said. “These are landmark structures.”
Wright is the one who made the FSC campus the way it is today. FSC was named the most beautiful college campus in the nation by The Princeton Review two years in a row.
The Annie Pfeiffer Chapel is one of the most iconic buildings on FSC’s campus, so restoring it back to its original state is a major project for the school to embark on.
“This [the chapel] is probably the hallmark structure of FSC’s campus,” Tlachac said. “It was the first structure built as well as the largest monumental-looking structure and only tall structure.”
Photo Credit: Bethany Schram