In the summer of 1954, the University of Florida purchased two white frame buildings at 1510 and 1504 West University Avenue and turned them over to the Dept. of Housing to manage. 1504 was first used as a fraternity space where 17 men lived in the house which was known as The King’s house. Then the house became the International Center that helped students with visas and adjusting to life in the U.S. as well as at UF. This space has also housed the UF English Department.
In 1994, Hispanic and Latino students at UF, growing in numbers on campus petitioned for the space. Their vision was a place where Hispanic and Latinx students could hang out, learn from one another and just have a space that was their own. This was a team effort of administrators, Hispanic faculty and staff and of course students.
In May of 1994, the house was dedicated to the Institute for Hispanic-Latino Cultures. The space is also affectionately known as La Casita. La Casita was defaced in 2003 while then student Gil Sanchez ran for office within Student Government. The words “No Spic for President” were spray-painted on the side of the house. This brought the Hispanic-Latino community together along with other racialized and marginalized groups on campus. These groups sought to combat racism and ignorance. The board on the second floor of La Casita holds all of the signatures gathered at this time in order to show unity against racism at UF.
La Casita has a long-standing history at UF. It has helped students feel connected with other students as well as academically. La Casita holds significance because it has served as a home-away-from-home for the last 20 years. Many student organizations have started in this space and have grown because of the support and connections students have made at La Casita. Moreover, it represents the University’s commitment to Hispanic and Latinx students.