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Education > East Florida Seminary
Florida Seminary - Battalion
Although East Florida was a coeducational school, for its male students it was a military school with uniforms, sleeping barracks, dinner in the mess hall, and a bugle call for wake-up in the morning (according to Sam Proctor in "Gator History," the bugler also served as the school janitor). Students marched to class in formation, and every Friday afternoon there was a formal parade that the community enjoyed watching—perhaps the event recorded in this photograph is the Friday afternoon parade. Notes included with this photo say “EFS, Battalion, March 1903. Corporal Alanson Austin Miller, April 1903, and Sergeant, December 1903.” The picture was given by M. Miller.
In 1851 the Florida Legislature passed a bill to establish two tax-supported state schools—one in East Florida, the other in West Florida, divided by the Suwannee River—and the sites would be determined by which two counties offered the most in land and resources. A year later, in 1852, East Florida Seminary was founded as a fee-based school in Ocala but, short of funds, the school asked for state support. That support was granted in 1853 and EFS resources (land, buildings and cash) were turned over to the state.
Over the years, Mr. James Henry Roper, an educator from North Carolina, built a school called the Gainesville Academy on Northeast 1st Street. Mr. Roper was also a State Senator from Alachua County, and in 1866 he offered his land and school to the State of Florida in exchange for the relocation of EFS to Gainesville. His offer was accepted. The impact of East Florida Seminary on Gainesville was extensive. As the best school in this part of the state, it was a magnet to new settlers, resulting in greater opportunities and prosperity for everyone. East Florida Seminary was absorbed into the University of Florida in 1905-1906.
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