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Matheson History Museum

The Matheson History Museum, located at 513 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601, is a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. Housed in the old American Legion Hall, the museum showcases artifacts, photographs, and other memorabilia that offer a glimpse into the area’s past.

The museum is named after James Douglas Matheson, a prominent Gainesville attorney and community leader. Matheson’s passion for history and preservation led him to become involved with the Alachua County Historical Society in the 1960s. Through his efforts, the society acquired the old American Legion Hall in downtown Gainesville, and it became the site of the Matheson History Museum in 1994.

The museum’s permanent exhibit, “Gainesville: A Carl Van Ness City,” tells the story of Gainesville’s development from a small farming community to a vibrant city. Visitors can see early photographs of the city, learn about the area’s early inhabitants, and discover the role that agriculture played in the region’s economy. read more

Another highlight of the museum is the “McCartney House,” a restored 1867 home that was moved to the museum’s property in 2003. The house is furnished with period pieces and offers a glimpse into what life was like for early settlers in the area. The home’s restoration was made possible through the efforts of local preservationists and volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure that this important piece of Gainesville’s history was not lost.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibits throughout the year. Recent exhibits have included “Women Trailblazers in Alachua County,” which highlighted the achievements of local women who made significant contributions to their communities, and “From the Everglades to the Gulf Coast,” which explored the natural and cultural history of Florida’s west coast.

The Matheson History Museum also offers educational programs for visitors of all ages. These programs include walking tours of historic Gainesville neighborhoods, lectures by local historians, and workshops on topics such as genealogy and historic preservation. The museum also has an extensive research library that is open to the public and contains a wealth of information about the history of Alachua County and the surrounding area.

One of the most popular events hosted by the museum is the annual “Holiday Home Tour.” This event, which takes place in December, offers visitors the opportunity to tour some of Gainesville’s most historic homes, many of which are not normally open to the public. The event also features live music, refreshments, and a holiday gift shop.

The Matheson History Museum is a true gem in the heart of Gainesville. Through its exhibits, programs, and events, the museum brings to life the rich history and cultural heritage of the area. Whether you are a local resident or a visitor to the area, a visit to the Matheson History Museum is sure to be a memorable experience that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the rich history and vibrant culture of Gainesville, Florida.

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