Located next to the Keene Hall music building, across the street from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, mere feet from the Theatre and Art Departments, and with a view of Lake Virginia, Rex Beach Hall houses a vibrant Living Learning Community that allows students interested in the arts (music, theatre, dance, and film making) to live, study and socialize together.
This residence hall was named for Rollins’ alumnus and benefactor, Rex Beach.
Rex Beach came to Florida with his family as a squatter in Tampa under the Homestead Act. This humble beginning helped shape the personality of the man who would retain forever his modest, unassuming, and humorous demeanor.
Beach attended Rollins in the early 1890s. A free and independent spirit, he was not always in synch with the Rollins administration of the time. In 1892, Beach was severely reprimanded by the first Rollins President, Edward Hooker, for the “heinous” crime of sailing on a Sunday. The very next week, he was suspended for daring to attend a late night party… in Orlando.
Beach was reinstated the following year and went on to compete in two Olympic games, take an active part in the 1902 Alaska Gold Rush, and write 33 novels, 14 of which were made into movies. He was also the first to establish the value of the author’s name and to demand screen credit. He returned to Florida where he began gladioli and lily farming. Later, he began cattle farming, becoming a leader in what was to become an enormous industry in Florida.
For over twenty years, Beach served as president of the Alumni Association. At President Hamilton Holt’s inauguration in 1927, he received an honorary degree from the College.
The ashes of Beach and his wife Greta are buried on campus where a small marker near the Alumni House says simply, “Rex Beach and Greta Crater Beach.”
Hamilton Holt is attributed with perhaps the most fitting quote concerning Rex Beach. At a dinner in 1937, Holt classed Beach as being “the type of student who does not permit studies to interfere with education.”