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Street Scenes > West University
Avenue & 13th Street
University Avenue & 13th Street
It is hard to imagine the empty street scene at this intersection which is, today, the busiest intersection in Gainesville—West University Avenue and 13th Street. The photographer is looking east towards downtown. The closest building is the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and next to it is Pi Kappa Phi. The SAE house is new in this photograph, but over the years it appeared to be covered with ivy (it was actually a variety of ficus that has traditionally covered a number of UF buildings). The SAEs came to the University of Florida in 1915, the fourth fraternity on campus (after Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Alpha, and Pi Kappa Alpha). According to Sam Proctor in "Gator History," in the early days UF fraternities met in private homes or rented spaces in downtown buildings. Later they rented houses for dining and sleeping. Rules could be very lax, and sometimes boys who were still in high school were pledged. The SAEs had a life-size cast-cement white lion in front of their house that had been given to the fraternity by a brother, Clinton Burbridge, in 1926. When the fraternity was on the corner of University Avenue and 13th Street, the lion was a target for just about everything. In 1944 it was tarred and feathered, in 1950 it went missing but was found again, and in 1951 it was attacked with a sledgehammer. A new lion was bought but it was dynamited in 1956. Cars full of high school girls would speed by and throw paint-filled balloons—traditionally, if they were caught, they got a serious haircut. The building was demolished in the early 1960s when the trend was to build new homes on campus on Fraternity Row.
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