Matheson Museum presents History of the Thelma Boltin Recreation Center with Melanie Barr, Betsy Hurst, and Paula Stahmer

Press release from the Matheson History Museum

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Matheson is honored to host the Friends of the Thelma Boltin Recreation Center committee on Saturday, July 29, to make a presentation about the significance of the building originally built as the Serviceman’s Center in 1943.

Saturday, July 29 at 4 p.m.
FREE with registration

Free Registration – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-history-of-the-thelma-boltin- recreation-center-tickets-679438136757

Zoom Registration –https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NHQ2l_28TBqAE4nc00tn8w

The eighty-year-old building is a contributing building in a National Register Historic District and a State Heritage Site. It is significant for likely being the only building in the State of Florida that was built for World War II soldiers to relax and socialize and do activities before being shipped off to fight.

Thelma Boltin was hired as the Program Director in 1943. After the War ended, she became the Recreation Director for the City. She was also a founder of the White Springs Folk Festival and what is now the Gainesville Community Playhouse, as well as an English and Drama teacher at Gainesville High School. Her program “Teen Time” was popular with local teens. She booked local bands that included Stephen Stills, Bernie Leadon, and Don Felder to play on the present stage. Tom Petty attended and may have played at the dances held there too.

Do not miss this opportunity to see photos taken during the periods of significance. Feel free to bring your own photos and souvenirs to the presentation!

This event is sponsored in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County, FL, and by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of the Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.

  • If Gainesville had a community memory vault, this building would be it. First dance, first kiss, first love. Then all the opposite emotions manifest from them. First betrayal, first broken heart, this building held them all for many of us. Teen Time weekly dance, Youth Club dance for High School. Then the championship ping pong table. The social order of each part of the dance floor. The cool in group had the top right near the stage and each section you found yourself in was the identifier. of where you fit in. How brutal that could be when your are 13 in middle school.
    One building one million special moments started at those steps going forward.

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