As part of Florida Southern College’s ongoing commitment to preserve its historic Frank Lloyd Wright collection of structures, a project was recently completed to thoroughly restore the interior of the signature Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.
The chapel—the first of the Wright-designed buildings on campus—was dedicated in 1941 but underwent extensive repairs after it was damaged in 1944 by a hurricane.
The project, which was overseen by architect Jeff Baker of Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker of Albany, N.Y., removed most of the changes made to the interior of the chapel over the years and restored it to its approximate “second generation” appearance. The major features of the project included:
- Removal of metal-frame theater seats and installation of new wood-frame seats that reflect the original seats designed by Wright;
- Removal of carpeting and tile and restoration of the original concrete flooring and chancel, painted in Wright’s signature color “Cherokee red”;
- Removal of aluminum-frame doors and installation of new wood doors based on Wright’s original drawings; and,
- Restoration of the chapel’s original transepts, which had been closed off.
In addition, the electrical and fire detection systems were upgraded, and the walls were patched and painted.
The project was completed with assistance from a two-year, $350,000 Special Category Grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, which concluded on June 30, with additional assistance from the Florida Historical Commission.
Florida Southern has been the beneficiary of previous grants from the Division of Historical Resources, part of the Florida Department of State, to restore and preserve its Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures. Among other projects, the Water Dome and the Theatre-in-the-Round were restored to their original conditions through DHR grants given in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
“Florida Southern is committed to preserving the treasured designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, and it is a joy to see the chapel restored to its former architectural significance,” said President Anne Kerr. “We are grateful to the Division of Historical Resources and the private donors who made this important restoration possible.”