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Tour of the Downton Area, Gainesville, Florida

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Title:
Tour of the Downton Area, Gainesville, Florida
Creator:
Brasington, John
Clayton, Robert
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
Matheson Historical Museum
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Source Institution:
Matheson History Museum
Holding Location:
Matheson History Museum
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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MATHESON MUSEUM, INC.

ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM






TOUR OF THE DOWNTOWN AREA

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA

with

JOHN BRASINGTON
and
BOB CLAYTON


February 1, 2002






Downtown Tour with John Brasington 1
February 1, 2002


B: Hugh Chandler used to have that old brick building. That was the Gulf Oil
distributorship.

C: I remember that. We are now at the corer of N.W. 16th Ave. and Main Street, going
right down where the railroad track used to come in Gainesville.

B: That's right. This is old North Main Street. On the right hand side used to be the
City Dump, right here where the Gainesville Shopping Center is.

C: Oh yes, where that new Publix is used to be the City Dump on North Main.

B: When Hugh Edwards turned it into a shopping center, he told me he was surprised
that the place floated.

C: That it floated! Hugh Edwards did a lot of building here in town right after the war.

B: Yes. He did a lot for a lot of people.

(Pause)

Now this is as far as the city used to come, right here.

C: North of 8th Avenue was country, huh.

B: Oh yes.

C: Yes. 8th Avenue used to be Boundary, didn't it?

(Pause)

B: I used to live at 715 N. Main Street, and it was right across from the Gainesville
Candy Company. It was right where that building is there.

C: Yes, where the wood stove and fireplace center is now.

B: Everybody used to turn right there to go to the Hotel Thomas. The White House
Hotel used to be on this block up here where the Sun Trust Bank is, and the train used
to stop right here and let the people go over and eat.

C: We're riding down North Main Street right where the train used to run.

B: Now, right about here is where I got off of the train on March 20, 1926.

C: Right in front of where the First Union Bank is.






Downtown Tour with John Brasington 2
February 1, 2002


B: The depot was right there. The old courthouse was right there where the new
courthouse is. Al Canova used to have a drugstore on that comer over there.

C: I used to carhop there.

B: Woolworth was right on that comer.

C: Porter's Caf6 is where Canova's Drug was.

B: The Royal Restaurant used to be on that comer.

C: Where the Soul Train is.

B: Woolworth was there that Subway is now.

(Pause)

C: Now we're coming back up on South Main Street, from S.E. 10th Avenue. We're
going to turn right, by where Stringfellow Supply Company was.

B: A long time ago the Gainesville Stock Market used to be here, before the war.

C: Out west of where Stringfellow Supply was.

B: They used to sell fertilizer right over in that place I don't remember what his name
was. That used to be the Texaco Oil distributor place over there that Mr. Taylor ran.
The trains used to go right along here.

C: Yeah, into Main Street. And Colclough Hill was behind us. We're crossing Depot
Avenue headed north now.

B: Now, that's Baird Hardware's warehouse. They used to ship stuff all over the state
out of that warehouse. This used to be our body shop over there. This used to be Cox
Furniture Company.

C: Yes, their big warehouse was where Geo Solutions, Inc. is now.

B: Oscar Thomas' dairy used to run out of this place right here, and they used to have
good ice cream in there.

C: Yes. On the comer right by the fire station. I remember I used to get ice cream in
there. They had a concrete floor. I remember that.

B: This is where the city is building the new courthouse.






Downtown Tour with John Brasington 3
February 1, 2002


(Pause)

C: Right there where Whiskey River is.

B: It runs all the way through the block to the bank.

C: That's where the Sovereign Restaurant.

B: No, that's a little farther.

C: Okay, it's a block east.

B: This is Beasley Williams' Furniture.

C: Rice Hardware was right there on that comer across the street from Beasley Williams.

B: And this was the back entrance of our old agency. We used to come out right here.

C: Yes, your back entrance was on S.W. 1st St., which used to be Garden Street.

B: That's right. Now this used to be the Arlington Hotel there, and a long time ago U.S.
441 used to come and turn at this corner going to Ocala. They used to put up a lot of
tourists there, and they would store the car over there in the garage with us. A lot of
times I would wash a car in the nighttime for 500, and the people would give me a
500 tip, so I would get $1.00 for washing it.

C: That's on the corer of S. Main and S. 2nd Ave.

B: See that building across the street there.

C: Tench Building 1887.

B: Benmont Tench's daddy built that building.

C: Where Artist Studio is now.

B: Mr. Tench's daddy used to run a shoe store. You remember. Up here in this tan
looking building.

C: Yes. He had the first x-ray that I ever saw. He used to x-ray your feet to see if the
shoes would fit.

B: Now that Confederate soldier standing there, when I was going to high school, I used
to walk through there and I used to see him everyday.






Downtown Tour with John Brasington 4
February 1, 2002


C: You know that in all the Southern towns that have a Confederate soldier, they all face
north, so when they come back, we're ready for them. If you go to any Southern
town, the Confederate soldier on the courthouse square always faces north. See,
you've learned something today!

B: Right. On the left where the clock is used to be Vidal's Drug Store. They sold all the
books that you had to have for school. Every grade that I went my dad had to buy
books, but my brother behind me got free books. Now we're coming to the
Sweetwater Branch up here in a minute.

C: Yes, past this light. Alachua County Courthouse and the Library.

B: The Gainesville Library used to be right along here on the creek.

C: Yes, and there's the old American Legion building, which is the Matheson Museum
now, where my wife happens to be working this morning.

B: This house right here belonged to the Phifers. Mrs. Ira Baird used to live right here.
It's a shame they took those row houses. Mr. J.R. Fowler, who ran the Star Garage,
lived right here.

C: Corer of 8th Ave. and E. University.

B: Haymans used to live in that house. Winston, I believe, lived in that house.

C: Fred Winston?

B: No. Fred Winston lived back near the hospital. His daddy built the Florida Field.
More or less, a long time, the east side of Gainesville was the nicest part of
Gainesville, but it all went to pot pretty quick.

C: Yes, that's the evolution of things. Now maybe it will come back. They've got some
pretty trees in East Gainesville, I'm telling you.

B: We're just passing the Coca Cola bottling plant on E. University Avenue.

C: We're turning left now onto the Waldo Road.

B: The Seaboard Railroad track used to run right along the side of Waldo Road.

C: Yes, along the east side of Waldo Road, the railroad track did run.


(Pause)






Downtown Tour with John Brasington 5
February 1, 2002


C: We're getting ready to tum left on 8th Avenue. I remember right over there on the
northwest comer of Waldo Rd. and 8th Avenue was Harris Field.

B: And a long time ago, Alachua County had a fairground over there. They had a big
old wooden building that they had exhibits in, and on the outside they played baseball
and football and everything else. Bleachers were back in there.

C: We're headed west on 8th Avenue.

B: There's the roundabout.

(Pause)

C: We're now in the Duck Pond area.

B: I think that house right there was part of a barn of the Thomas Dairy.

C: At N.E. 7h Ave. and The Boulevard there was a barn from the Thomas Dairy. There
used to the Thomas Hotel right there.

B: We used to think these were nice streets.

C: Now we're coming back up to N.E. 1t Street. This used to be U.S. 441 here.

B: Right. It used to be Alabama St. and is now N.W. 6th St., and it was 441.

B: This used to be the main drag going to Chicago or Atlanta. When you got into the
City of Gainesville, there was a big arch over the road up there that said,
"Gainesville."

C: Yes, the city gate.

B: Dr. Smith built this house and this house. Do you remember Dr. Smith?

C: I don't think so. I don't recall him.

B: His daughter married Earl Deck.

C: Oh yeah, Sarah.

(Pause)

C: The city limits used to be right in here.

B: Maybe a little farther out.






Downtown Tour with John Brasington 6
February 1, 2002



C: Yes, because I used to live over here on Pine Park, which is on the left, and we were
just outside the city limits. The city limits were right about here at 19h Avenue.

(Pause)

C: N.W. 23rd Ave. now headed toward 13th Street. We're going to turn left onto 13th
Street, and I'll bet you we end up back at Brasington's. I remember down here on the
corner of 13th St. and 16th Ave. Mr. O.P. Wells had his hatchery, a chicken hatchery.

B: O.P.'s son is still around here.

C: Oh yeah. I think he lives in Starke.

B: I think we sold him a car the other day. The Chevrolet agency he started went busted.
I was surprised. People came there one day with 18 trucks and hauled off even the
chairs behind the desks and everything even some customers' cars.

C: Oh gosh. We're now back at Brasington Automobile Agency, and John, I thank you
very kindly for this. We're going to get this typed up and this will go in the files,
also. Thank you, sir.


B: I appreciate it.




Full Text
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PAGE 1

MATHESON MUSEUM, INC. ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM TOUR OF THE DOWNTOWN AREA GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA with JOHN BRASINGTON and BOB CLAYTON February 1, 2002

PAGE 2

Downtown Tour with John Brasington February 1, 2002 1 B: Hugh Chandler used to have that old brick building. That was the Gulf Oil distributorship. C: I remember that. We are now at the corner of N.W. 16th Ave. and Main Street, going right down where the railroad track used to come in Gainesville. B: That’s right. This is old North Main Stre et. On the right hand side used to be the City Dump, right here where the Gainesville Shopping Center is. C: Oh yes, where that new Publix is used to be the City Dump on North Main. B: When Hugh Edwards turned it into a s hopping center, he told me he was surprised that the place floated. C: That it floated! Hugh Edwards did a lot of building here in town ri ght after the war. B: Yes. He did a lot for a lot of people. (Pause) Now this is as far as the c ity used to come, right here. C: North of 8th Avenue was country, huh. B: Oh yes. C: Yes. 8th Avenue used to be Boundary, didn’t it? (Pause) B: I used to live at 715 N. Main Street, and it was right across from the Gainesville Candy Company. It was right wh ere that building is there. C: Yes, where the wood stove and fireplace center is now. B: Everybody used to turn right there to go to the Hote l Thomas. The White House Hotel used to be on this block up here wher e the Sun Trust Bank is, and the train used to stop right here and let the people go over and eat. C: We’re riding down North Main Street right where the train used to run. B: Now, right about here is where I got off of the train on March 20, 1926. C: Right in front of where the First Union Bank is.

PAGE 3

Downtown Tour with John Brasington February 1, 2002 2 B: The depot was right there. The old courthouse was right there where the new courthouse is. Al Canova used to have a drugstore on that corner over there. C: I used to carhop there. B: Woolworth was right on that corner. C: Porter’s Caf is where Canova’s Drug was. B: The Royal Restaurant used to be on that corner. C: Where the Soul Train is. B: Woolworth was there that Subway is now. (Pause) C: Now we’re coming back up on So uth Main Street, from S.E. 10th Avenue. We’re going to turn right, by where Stri ngfellow Supply Company was. B: A long time ago the Gainesville Stock Mark et used to be here, before the war. C: Out west of where Stringfellow Supply was. B: They used to sell fertilizer right over in that place – I don’t remember what his name was. That used to be the Texaco Oil dist ributor place over there that Mr. Taylor ran. The trains used to go right along here. C: Yeah, into Main Street. And Colclough Hill was behind us. We’re crossing Depot Avenue headed north now. B: Now, that’s Baird Hardware’s warehouse. They used to ship stuff all over the state out of that warehouse. This used to be our body shop over there. This used to be Cox Furniture Company. C: Yes, their big warehouse was where Geo Solutions, Inc. is now. B: Oscar Thomas’ dairy used to run out of th is place right here, a nd they used to have good ice cream in there. C: Yes. On the corner right by the fire sta tion. I remember I used to get ice cream in there. They had a concrete floor. I remember that. B: This is where the city is building the new courthouse.

PAGE 4

Downtown Tour with John Brasington February 1, 2002 3 (Pause) C: Right there where Whiskey River is. B: It runs all the way through the block to the bank. C: That’s where the Sovereign Restaurant. B: No, that’s a little farther. C: Okay, it’s a block east. B: This is Beasley Williams’ Furniture. C: Rice Hardware was right there on that corner across the street from Beasley Williams. B: And this was the back entrance of our ol d agency. We used to come out right here. C: Yes, your back entrance was on S.W. 1st St., which used to be Garden Street. B: That’s right. Now this used to be the Arlington Hotel there, and a long time ago U.S. 441 used to come and turn at this corner going to Ocala. They used to put up a lot of tourists there, and they would store the car over th ere in the garage with us. A lot of times I would wash a car in the nighttime for 50, and the people would give me a 50 tip, so I would get $1.00 for washing it. C: That’s on the corner of S. Main and S. 2nd Ave. B: See that building across the street there. C: Tench Building 1887. B: Benmont Tench’s daddy built that building. C: Where Artist Studio is now. B: Mr. Tench’s daddy used to run a shoe stor e. You remember. Up here in this tan looking building. C: Yes. He had the first x-ray that I ever sa w. He used to x-ray your feet to see if the shoes would fit. B: Now that Confederate soldier standing th ere, when I was going to high school, I used to walk through th ere and I used to see him everyday.

PAGE 5

Downtown Tour with John Brasington February 1, 2002 4 C: You know that in all the Southern towns th at have a Confederate soldier, they all face north, so when they come back, we’re r eady for them. If you go to any Southern town, the Confederate soldier on the courthouse square al ways faces north. See, you’ve learned something today! B: Right. On the left where the clock is used to be Vidal’s Drug Store. They sold all the books that you had to have for school. Ev ery grade that I went my dad had to buy books, but my brother behind me got free books. Now we’re coming to the Sweetwater Branch up here in a minute. C: Yes, past this light. Alachua County Courthouse and the Library. B: The Gainesville Library used to be right along here on the creek. C: Yes, and there’s the old American Le gion building, which is the Matheson Museum now, where my wife happens to be working this morning. B: This house right here belonged to the Phifers. Mrs. Ira Ba ird used to live right here. It’s a shame they took those row houses. Mr. J.R. Fowler, who ran the Star Garage, lived right here. C: Corner of 8th Ave. and E. University. B: Haymans used to live in that house. Winston, I believe, lived in that house. C: Fred Winston? B: No. Fred Winston lived back near the hospital. His daddy built the Florida Field. More or less, a long time, the east side of Gainesville was the nicest part of Gainesville, but it all went to pot pretty quick. C: Yes, that’s the evolution of things. Now maybe it will come back. They’ve got some pretty trees in East Gainesville, I’m telling you. B: We’re just passing the Coca Cola bot tling plant on E. University Avenue. C: We’re turning left now onto the Waldo Road. B: The Seaboard Railroad track used to run right along the side of Waldo Road. C: Yes, along the east side of Waldo Road, the railroad track did run. (Pause)

PAGE 6

Downtown Tour with John Brasington February 1, 2002 5 C: We’re getting ready to turn left on 8th Avenue. I remember right over there on the northwest corner of Waldo Rd. and 8th Avenue was Harris Field. B: And a long time ago, Alachua County had a fairground over there. They had a big old wooden building that they had exhibits in, and on the outside they played baseball and football and everything else. Bleachers were back in there. C: We’re headed west on 8th Avenue. B: There’s the roundabout. (Pause) C: We’re now in the Duck Pond area. B: I think that house right there was part of a barn of the Thomas Dairy. C: At N.E. 7th Ave. and The Boulevard there was a barn from the Thomas Dairy. There used to the Thomas Hotel right there. B: We used to think these were nice streets. C: Now we’re coming back up to N.E. 1st Street. This used to be U.S. 441 here. B: Right. It used to be Alabama St. and is now N.W. 6th St., and it was 441. B: This used to be the main drag going to Chicago or Atlanta. When you got into the City of Gainesville, there was a big ar ch over the road up there that said, “Gainesville.” C: Yes, the city gate. B: Dr. Smith built this house and this house. Do you remember Dr. Smith? C: I don’t think so. I don’t recall him. B: His daughter married Earl Deck. C: Oh yeah, Sarah. (Pause) C: The city limits used to be right in here. B: Maybe a little farther out.

PAGE 7

Downtown Tour with John Brasington February 1, 2002 6 C: Yes, because I used to live over here on Pine Park, which is on the left, and we were just outside the city limits. The city limits were right about here at 19th Avenue. (Pause) C: N.W. 23rd Ave. now headed toward 13th Street. We’re going to turn left onto 13th Street, and I’ll bet you we end up back at Brasington’s. I remember down here on the corner of 13th St. and 16th Ave. Mr. O.P. Wells had his ha tchery, a chicken hatchery. B: O.P.’s son is still around here. C: Oh yeah. I think he lives in Starke. B: I think we sold him a car the other day. Th e Chevrolet agency he started went busted. I was surprised. People came there one day with 18 trucks and hauled off even the chairs behind the desks and everyt hing – even some customers’ cars. C: Oh gosh. We’re now back at Brasingt on Automobile Agency, and John, I thank you very kindly for this. We’re going to get th is typed up and this will go in the files, also. Thank you, sir. B: I appreciate it.