A goodbye to the Blair dormitory

October 9, 2023

The Conservancy offers a broad range of internships, including environmental education, science exploration, sea turtle research, Burmese python research and wildlife rehab in the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. The internship program is unique not only for the mission work that is conducted but also for the free dorm accommodations for all interns.

For nearly 35 years, the Blair Dormitory has been a home away from home for an estimated 875 interns from all over the country who worked directly with our four programmatic departments.  The building also provided offices for the education department for many years. 

With the opening of the new Environmental Studies Dormitory Building funded by Jeannie M. and Christopher B. Smith, the interns and education staff have moved into their new home, and we say goodbye and thank you to the Blair Dormitory.

Dedication of the Blair Dormitory or “Blair House” in December 1988

John and Dorothy Blair, Minnesota natives, moved to Naples in the 1960s and quickly became avid champions of nature conservation in Southwest Florida. The couple were advocates for the Conservancy, as Mr. Blair served as one of the first directors. Mrs. Blair was also a member of the board of directors and a notable supporter of the construction of the Blair Dormitory and the Blair Administration Building on our campus.  

The Blairs’ contributions have aided greatly in the success of our internship program. As the program has grown, so has the need for more accommodations and improved living spaces.

Comparison of Blair dormitory construction and current building

Interns were able to move into the new Environmental Studies Dormitory in August 2023, allowing our internship program to grow by 20 percent. The building was a gift from Jeannie and Christopher Smith, along with support from about a dozen other foundations and individuals who believe so strongly in the Conservancy’s mission work.

“As we compete for regional, national and global talent for conservation interns, this wonderful new facility puts the Conservancy on the cutting edge to be competitive in attracting the best candidates,” said Rob Moher, CEO and President. 

Among the excitement of growth and expansion, we now say goodbye to a piece of Conservancy’s story. In October 2023, the demolition of the Blair Dormitory will begin, closing the door on its 35 years of housing history. The demolition of this building will provide our campus with additional green space, enhancing the natural oasis of our area. As we look back fondly on the memories of the Blair Dormitory, we move forward with enthusiasm and momentum for all that is to come.

Comparison of Blair dormitory rendition and current building