Matheson Museum Virtual Program: Florida’s Healing Waters with Rick Kilby

Press release from Matheson History Museum

Author and historian Rick Kilby returns to the Matheson to share about his latest book, “Florida’s Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts & Health Spas.” Many of the images in the book came from the Matheson’s collections!

Registration is free via Zoom Webinar: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XxRmFFS3Q82CEyqK6m6uhg. The program will also be streamed live via the Matheson’s Facebook page.

Filled with rare photographs, vintage postcards and advertisements, and fascinating descriptions from over 100 years ago, “Florida’s Healing Waters” spotlights a little-known time in Florida history when tourists poured into the state in search of good health.

Rick Kilby explores the Victorian belief that water caused healing and rehabilitation, tracing the history of “taking the waters” from its origins in the era of Enlightenment. Nineteenth-century Americans traveled from afar to bathe in the outdoors and soak up the warm climate of Florida.

Here, with more than 1,000 freshwater springs, 1,300 miles of coastline, and 30,000 lakes, water was an abundant resource.

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Today, these splendid health spas and elaborate bathing facilities have been lost, replaced by recreational amenities for a culture more about sun and fun than physical renewal. In this book, Kilby emphasizes the value of honoring and preserving the natural features of the state in the face of continual development. He reminds us that Florida’s water is still a life-giving treasure.

Rick Kilby

Rick Kilby grew up in Gainesville, Florida, looking for shark’s teeth, swimming in springs, and wading through swamps. A University of Florida graduate, he has earned his living as a graphic designer since 1986 and has been self-employed for over twenty years. Inspired by a trip to the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, he created a blog about the history and culture of Florida in 2008. His Old Florida blog (http://studiohourglass.blogspot.com/) now has more than 880,000 views, and his Old Florida Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OldFlorida1) is followed by over 58,000 people.

He has delivered papers at several conferences of the Society for Commercial Archeology and is the designer and managing editor of “Reflections from Central Florida” magazine, the journal of the Historical Society of Central Florida.

His first book, “Finding the Fountain of Youth,” was published in 2013 and won a Florida Book Award in the Visual Arts category. His second book, “Florida’s Healing Waters,” was recently published by the University Press of Florida.

Rick’s mission is to motivate other Floridians to appreciate and preserve the natural and historic wonders of their state.

This program 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.