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The old Federal Building, now the Hippodrome State Theatre, is Gainesville's finest example of Palladium Classical Revival Architecture. It was begun in May 1909 and completed in March 1911 at a cost of $160,000.00.
The building rests on granite block. A riveted steel frame construction supports carved limestone trim which was also used for the columns, capitals, entablature and ballustrade. Individual blocks provide bases for six Corinthian limestone columns which support the pediment. The hipped roof is constructed of clay tile and is surrounded by ornate limestone scroll work. Bronze entry doors, an elevator, steam heat, terrazzo floors and richly plastered interiors were considered very elaborate for Gainesville in 1911.
From 1911 to 1964, the building housed our U.S. Post Office, Federal Court, District Attorney and U.S. Land Office. From 1964, the property was leased to the Alachua County School Board, but in 1974 planning began for a performing arts center downtown. In the late 1970s, the building was placed on a Register of Historic Places, and fundraising for the theater began in March 1980, with a ribbon-cutting on steps of the Old Post Office with Rep. Fuqua, Director of Cultural Affairs Becky Kushner, Mayor Bill Howard and Hippodrome landlord and patron George Kirkpatrick. Over 15,000 volunteer man-hours by more than 350 people enables the Hippodrome to open its administrative offices on the third floor of the Old Post Office by Sept. 1, and with contributions totalling $326,933.00, the M.M. Parrish Construction Company began work on the 266-seat second-floor mainstage. The theater opened in January 1981, with The Elephant Man.
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