Historic Marker 33 is located at 1310 United Street.
Bruce Hall was the third building in the educational complex at Ruth Hargrove Seminary. In 1889 Bishop Warren Candler of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, representing the Woman’s Board of Home Mission established a committee of seven prominent local businessmen to establish a seminary of learning in Key West.
The seminary began in a modest way in rented buildings while the committee raised money and secured a suitable site for their new institution. The first building purchased for the seminary was completed in 1901and was located on the corner of United and White Streets. The structure was a large colonial frame building with recital rooms, dormitories and living quarters for the faculty. It stood where the national weather station stands today.
Bruce Hall was built in 1911. It featured exterior walls of “Indian block”, a solid concrete block that was considered to be “fire proof” at the turn of the nineteenth century. The architectural style and use of building materials is very similar to the large cigar factories of the day.
It consisted of twelve recital rooms, two music rooms, a chemical and physical laboratory, a library, the principal’s office and an auditorium with a seating capacity of over six hundred. The auditorium was the largest in the city and was complimented by a large roof garden for entertaining.
With the outbreak of World War I the United States military purchased Hargrove Seminary and converted it into to a hospital. The three acre compound served as the primary hospital on the island during the First and Second World Wars.
After 40 years of providing educational and health services the wooden, colonial structure where the seminary had started was torn down leaving Bruce Hall as the sole survivor of the complex. The hall began its next life as the Navy commissary. With the acquisition of the Gato Cigar Factory located on Simonton Street ( see Historic Marker # 17) the Navy transferred the deed for the Bruce Hall property to the School Board. It is believed that the building’s history as an educational center played a role in the decision to turn it over to Key West’s current educational system.