With sweeping ivy crawling up the windows and gothic-style archways, Bryan Hall is a picturesque historical building at the University of Florida. One of the oldest buildings on campus, the building has a rich background, but recent renovations have given the interior of the hall a modern twist.
Over 100 years old, Bryan Hall has been on the UF historic registrar since 1979, according to the University of Florida Foundation website. Bryan Hall is located at 1384 Union Road, behind Heavener Hall.
Bryan Hall was named after Nathan P. Bryan, a Florida native and U.S senator from 1911 to 1917. According to the UF Foundation, Bryan spent four years pushing for the establishment of a law school at UF.
In 1909, he succeeded. While Bryan Hall was being built, the new law school of only 31 students met in Thomas Hall. After Bryan Hall was completed in 1914, it housed the law school until 1969.
These days, Bryan Hall is used for administration offices and learning centers for the Warrington College of Business Administration.
“The law inscription is still in stone above the door, so every now and then we will get some poor student who comes wandering in all confused, still asking if this is the college of law,” said Renee Mathis, assistant to the dean of the business college.
Mathis has been working as the dean’s assistant in Bryan Hall for 36 years.
“When I came here we still used typewriters,” Mathis said, laughing. “It’s a very nice place to work.”
Mathis said that there have been three additions to the hall since it was first built. The last addition, in 1950, added a small alcove to left side of the building, which now houses the office of John Kraft, dean of the Warrington College of Business.
“He’s right on the end in the cozy alcove, so it’s like he’s helping support the whole building,” Mathis said.
Recently, Bryan Hall has been adding some more modern renovations. Last month, the new Kelley A. Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies officially opened.
Denise Stoll, office manager for the center, said the new center was made possible by the large number of major endowments the college of business received.
“Alumni of our real estate program donated very generously,” Stoll said. “We’ve had about 20 major endowments, and those people now each get to have a conference room named after them.”
The center is on the top floor of Bryan Hall, and features sleek glass tables and new tile floors.
“I like the changes a lot,” Stoll said. “It’s nice to make this old hall feel a little more spruced up.”
Bryan Hall also is home to the updated Center of Entrepreneurship and the Center for Management and Communication for the business college. The Bryan auditorium is set to be refurbished sometime next semester, and the newly-renovated Center for Teaching and Learning will be finished in November, Mathis said.
Mathis said she likes the modern changes too, but is glad that Bryan Hall is keeping some of its old historical touches.
“Because the hall is on the historical registrar they won’t let anyone take out the old wooden door frames and the classic handrails,” Mathis said. “I’m glad they aren’t forgetting the history.”
On the brick wall of the hall outside, there is a plaque commemorating the old roots of Bryan Hall. The plaque tells passerby of the passerby of the first African-American student at UF, who graduated in 1962 from the law school, housed in Bryan Hall at the time.
“Moving all of the centers for the business college here was a great idea,” Stoll said. “It really helped us with networking and reaching out to bring all aspects of the college together. We are a tightly knit unit.”