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Phil Emmer Papers

Identifier: MSS 0363

Scope and Content

The Phil Emmer Papers, which date from 1941 to 2014, contains records detailing Emmer's work in housing development, his philanthropy, and his public service. This includes correspondence, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, articles, speeches and statements, brochures and flyers, and certificates. Folders labeled "General correspondence" include a parenthetical note expanding upon folder contents as needed, but are otherwise filed in chronological order. The series of folders entitled "A Life Committed to Building, Philanthropy, and Public Service" include a series of binders assembled by Emmer relating his own life story and community involvement through numerous letters, clippings, brochures, photographs, certificates, speeches, and more. They paint a thorough picture of the life of Phil Emmer.

This collection focuses on the philanthropy and public service of Emmer and also demonstrates the effect of these guiding principles on shaping his career in housing development. Of research interest outside of Emmer himself, this collection holds documentation about Lincoln Estates, a low-income housing development in east Gainesville that made significant advancements in housing for African Americans in the 1960s. Other records regarding low-income housing are found throughout the collection.


  • 1941-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1970-2010



This collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Philip I. Emmer was born on April 5, 1928 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1949 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and went on to serve in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1950 to 1952 on a project mapping the Philippines. He married his wife Barbara (née Lazarus) in 1956 and together they raised three children.

Emmer Development Corporation was founded in Miami as Emmer and Company in 1954. This small-volume home builder grew into one of North Central Florida's largest home and apartment building, land development, and real estate management companies, building more than 8,200 units in single- and multi-family developments, from single-family starter homes to HUD turnkey housing to luxury apartments and homes.

Emmer's public service has included work with the National Association of Home Builders, the Home Builders Association of Gainesville, Gainesville's City Housing Board and Chamber of Commerce, the University of Florida President's Council, Florida Arts Council, Board of Overseers of the Health Science Center and many other UF committees, Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (Gainesville), and the University of Florida Foundation, among many, many more. Emmer has also won several awards for his work in real estate and for his service to the community, including the A. W. Fletcher Service Award, the NAACP of Alachua County's Humanitarian Award, and honorary membership in Florida Blue Key.

Emmer's philanthropy, including support given through the Barbara and Phil Emmer Family Foundation, is directed towards medical and educational programs, as well as those that benefit children and seniors, the environment, religion, culture, interfaith and interracial organizations, good government, and public television. Some institutions of note include the University of Florida, the Florida Museum of Natural History, Hillel House, Dance Alive, the Monarch Society, and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, among others. Emmer and his wife Barbara also prepared and served food at St. Francis House, an institution serving the homeless of Gainesville.


3.67 Linear feet (7 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Philip I. Emmer is a real estate developer known for his work throughout Florida. His firm, Emmer Development Corporation, has developed properties in 15 Florida counties, from low-income, turnkey housing to luxury apartment complexes. Emmer is also well known for his philanthropy and public service. This collection focuses on the philanthropy and public service of Emmer, as well as his career in housing development. The collection also holds documentation regarding low-income housing, in particular Lincoln Estates.


This collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title, with the "General correspondence" folders being chronologically ordered.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Phil Emmer in 2015.

A Guide to the Phil Emmer Papers
Finding aid created by Steve Duckworth
September 2016
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America