500 North Court Street
G.W. Foster was a wealthy planter and industrialist who owned over 100 slaves. He chose this spot to build his impressive house because it was the highest point on Court Street and commanded a view of the city. He had to petition the legislature to close Court Street to allow him to build on this lot. The house was built between 1848 and 1855 by his slaves.
Southern planters often saw themselves as the heirs to Ancient Greece, which was also a democracy invested in slavery. The modern Greeks won a war for independence in the 1820's, spurring an interest in classical architecture across the United States.
Son of former Alabama governor Edward O'Neal, Emmet purchased this house in the early 1900s before he himself ran for governor. On election night in 1910, after Emmet had been elected governor, a parade made its way up Court Street to this house, where O'Neal addressed the crowd. Read more about Emmet O'Neal here.
Thomas M. Rogers, of Rogers Department Store, purchased the house in 1922. The Rogers family renovated the house and sold it to the Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama) in 1948.
As the university continued growing after the end of World War II, members of the State Building Commission visited Florence and met with President Keller on the need for more land on which the school could grow. This visit resulted in additional appropriations of $75,000 for land acquisition and eventually the purchase of Rogers Hall and its surrounding 5 acres for future development. The house was kept intact and used for social functions. The Rogers family donated some furnishings to remain with the house.
Keller hosted a conference with the landscape architects who designed the campus, the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, and the architects of most campus buildings, Warren Knight and Davis of Birmingham, to discuss how the acreage accompanying Rogers Hall might best be used. Plans were made for a new science building and two additional dormitories at this time.
With its imposing facade, Courtview exhibits a wealth of architectural features. Built in the Greek Revival style, a popular style among the South's planter class, the paired Ionic columns dominate the entrance to the house and are flanked by very tall first floor windows. A complete Greek entablature encircles the house. The first floor is raised, enhancing the facade and adding to the overall visual impact of the building.
In 2008, the university completed an extensive renovation of Rogers Hall, spending $1.3 million to stabilize and restore the historic structure. A new steel skeletal frame was added, as well as new floor joists, and the basement was finished for additional office space. The building was then rededicated as the Rogers Hall Alumni House.