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A Building History for the Red Hill Estate of John A. Roebling, II (1929-1941)/ Archbold Biological Station (founded 1941), 8 miles south of Lake Placid, Highlands County, Florida

Compiled by Fred E. Lohrer, Archbold Biological Station, April 2005, from Red Hill photos/correspondence in the Station’s historical archives, and from memory, with corrections and additions by Bert G. Crawford, Supervisor of Maintenance, and Robert E. Hippchen, Operations Manager

The Roebling Red Hill Estate includes six concrete buildings (storehouse, garages, generator house, pump house, water treatment plant, explosives storehouse) and one steel water storage tank. Some Red Hill buildings have slightly different names during the Archbold Biological Station era. In the following narrative, Archbold refers to Archbold Biological Station. Dates for Red Hill Estate construction events derived from dates of photographs and photograph numbers are indicated as RH###. Red Hill photographs by Alexander Blair, Red Hill construction engineer. Contemporary digital photographs, and digital-image processing, by Mike Mazzeo. File names give photograph dates (YYYYMMDD). Photographs copyright by Archbold Biological Station. For use-permission contact the Library.

  1. Red Hill Estate-Storehouse (& attached Dwelling): Archbold Biological Station-Main Building (& attached House). [Site File Number HG00863]
    1. Date of original construction. 1930-1931. 14 June 1930, photo of plaza area "before warehouse started."-RH28. 19 August 1930, pouring floor slabs-RH31. 20 April 1931, roof on but no tiles-RH189 & RH190.
    2. Dates and description of major exterior alterations. Roebling modifications. Construction completed and building occupied by 22 December 1931; east entry door added to Unit B (south end), between 21 August 1933 (RH480) and 7 November 1935 (RH584); east overhead door of north-end unit replaced by entry door, between 7 November 1935 (RH587) and 1939. Roebling exterior bronze, single passage doors still exist and in daily operation (2005) to; north classroom, laboratory, and bathroom, Unit B (south end), and office, lounge, and west kitchen. All original bronze Roebling windows still exist and operate. All original Roebling gutters, soffits, and down spouts still exist and operate. Archbold modifications-exterior. East porch roof over walkway and dining room added concurrently during 1941. Typical passage doors added to east, and probably west openings, screen and paneled doors, early 1940s, replaced again by sliding glass doors when units became air-conditioned, ca 1950s-1981, and then replaced again by aluminum storefront doors (only on east side except west door of the Avian Ecology Lab). East side. Opening for Unit B (south end) closed in by Archbold. The east section of Unit B was open to the weather (half wall and screens), as the "Cannery," until early 1980s, when windows and air-conditioning added and space became the Education Office. Archbold modifications-interior. Attic floors added to base of overhead girders for 5 storage units, ca. 1940s or 1950s. The attic over the library converted to offices, 1997. Attics over 4 remaining labs to be converted to offices during 2005. Attic over Unit B (south end), a former tool storage unit, converted to dormitory space by Archbold during 1950s, then renovated during 1970s, and again during late 1990s. Unit B (south end) converted to photography dark room, chemistry lab, and bathrooms, ca. 1950s, modified during late 1960s, and in 1983. The North Unit, formerly the machine shop, first converted to a classroom in 1983, later modified for 2 uses, classroom and laboratory, 2000-2001. Unit 5 (from north) converted to Vertebrate Lab, 1967. Unit 3 (from north) converted from carpenter shop to Plant Ecology Lab, 1983.
    3. Original use (Roebling). Storehouse, 7 units; store furniture & building materials, machine shop & tool storage, bathroom. Dwelling unit at south end included, offices, kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, bathrooms.
    4. Current use (Archbold). Main Building, 7 units; research laboratories, library, classroom, offices, chemistry lab, photography darkroom, bathrooms, dormitories. House; reception, lounge, offices, kitchen, dining room (added wing).
    5. Proposed use. No change from present.
  2. Red Hill Estate-garages: Archbold Biological Station-garages, Rand Building since 1996. [Site File Number HG00866]
    1. Date of original construction. 1932. 11 August 1932, pouring walls-RH389. 19 January 1933, roof tiles completed, steel doors in place-RH438 & RH440.
    2. Dates and description of major alterations. Roebling modifications. 1934-1935. Units 10 & 11 added at north end between 17 October 1934 (RH549) and 22 October 1935 (RH577). Archbold modifications. Before October 1957, added garage units to the east side of the building, using wood-frame, stucco-covered construction (exterior colors/details compatible with Roebling style), with a concrete floor at grade. No changes occurred to the east exterior of the original Roebling facade. During late 1960s, 3 east units at the south end closed in, with concrete floors, for animal observation rooms. During 1995, 9 west units at the south end converted to offices and renamed the Rand Building on 6 November 1996. Concrete was added to bring the floors 15" above grade, and standard commercial aluminum window-doors were added to west openings. The original Roebling steel roll-down doors still function and all exterior fittings and construction not changed. Interior offices; standard interior treatment; dry wall, drop ceiling, carpet. Offices with dormers; dormers not blocked off, exterior light still penetrates to office below.
    3. Original use (Roebling). Garages for vehicles.
    4. Current use (Archbold). Garages for vehicles until 1995 when south 9 units converted to offices.
    5. Proposed use. No change from present.
  3. Red Hill Estate-generator house: Archbold Biological Station-generator building. [Site File Number HG00865]
    1. Date of original construction. 1931?-1932. 22 December 1931, walls completed, roof trusses in place, no windows-RH289. 29 February 1932, roof on, no shingles; windows and door installed-RH313.
    2. Dates and description of major alterations. Roebling modifications. None
    3. Dates and description of major alterations. Archbold modifications. Roebling switch box replaced, ca. 1970s, upgrade 2005.
    4. Original use (Roebling). Diesel generator and glass storage batteries.
    5. Current use (Archbold). Main campus electrical switchboard, back-up diesel generator (115 kw); glass storage batteries sold ca. 1977.
    6. Proposed use. No change from present.
  4. Red Hill Estate-pump house: Archbold Biological Station-pump house. [Site File Number HG00867]
    1. Date of original construction. 1933, May -August. 12 May 1933, not even a foundation stake in place-RH463. 21 August 1933, building completed-RH480.
    2. Dates and description of major alterations.Roebling modifications. None. Archbold modifications. None.
    3. Original use (Roebling). House deep-well water pump and fire engine.
    4. Current use (Archbold). House deep-well water pump and fire engine. No other uses allowed for water pump area by State Department of Environmental Protection regulations.
    5. Proposed use. No change from present.
  5. Red Hill Estate-water treatment plant: Archbold Biological Station-water treatment plant.
    1. Date of original construction. 1932-1933. 17 December 1932, constructing forms for floor-RH409 & RH412. 19 January 1933, pouring walls for coke tank-RH443. 21 August 1933, trusses in place, but no roof-RH480. 21 November 1933, roof complete with tiles on-RH518.
    2. Dates and description of major alterations. Roebling modifications- None.
      Archbold modifications. For the spray tower (aeration); original steel trusses removed, original roof removed, and block wall added and concrete roof deck poured to replace original roof. All this work done pre-1972, possibly pre-1967. The roof girders had become corroded (pers comm. Robert Nagel to Bert Crawford), probably due to a chemical reaction with ground water (hydrogen sulfide?) as it was sprayed for aeration in the tower.
    3. Original use (Roebling).Water filtration and aeration.
    4. Current use (Archbold). Water filtration and aeration. Chlorine treatment of water supple began in mid-1980s. In 1990s, stairwell screened in to prevent debris from accumulating in the water that collects at the bottom of the stairwell during summer rains and to prevent unauthorized access, as per Florida Department of Environmental Protection regulations.
    5. Proposed use. No change from present.
  6. Red Hill Estate-explosives storehouse (in center of plaza island): Archbold Biological Station-flammables storehouse.
    1. Date of original construction. 1931-1933? Completed by 21 August 1933-RH480.
    2. Dates and description of major alterations. Roebling modifications. None.
    3. Dates and description of major alterations. Archbold modifications. A new wooden door added early 1970s.
    4. Original use (Roebling). Storage of explosives and combustibles.
    5. Current use (Archbold). Formerly for storage of chemicals; building cleared of all chemicals about 2002, now empty except for reagent-grade alcohol storage.
    6. Proposed use. No change from present.
  7. Red Hill Estate-70,000-gallon, steel water tank and tower: Archbold Biological Station-70,000-gallon, steel water tank and tower.
    1. Date of original construction. 1933, January - May. 19 January 1933, water tower absent-RH438. 12 May 1933, water tower present-RH463. The earliest photograph taken from the top of the steel water tower was 17 October 1934-RH549.
    2. Dates and description of major alterations. Roebling modifications. None.
    3. Dates and description of major alterations. Archbold modifications. None. Tank and tower exterior are painted regularly and the interior is occasionally sand-blasted before painting.
    4. Original use (Roebling). Water storage.
    5. Current use (Archbold). Water storage.
    6. Proposed use. No change from present.
Roebling Red Hill Estate
The estate storehouse
The estate garages
The estate generator house
The estate pump house
The estate water treatment plant
The estate explosives store house
The estate water tank