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Thomas & Gardens
Gainesville's Thomas Center was originally a private residence. Construction of "Sunkist Villa" was begun in 1906 by Mr. Charles W. Chase, the manager of the Dutton Phosphate Company, but the work was halted in 1909 by Mr. Chase's death. Major William Reuben Thomas purchased the property at that time and completed construction by the next year. He and his wife raised their children in the "showplace of Gainesville," but as the children grew up he began operating the villa as a hotel. By 1928 he had built a matching wing to the north. The Hotel Thomas dominated the hotel world in Gainesville for many years prior to the advent of comfortable motels, but in 1968 their doors were closed. For awhile the building was a temporary home for Santa Fe Junior College, but eventually it was purchased by the City of Gainesville and restored to its original glory. It is used for government offices and is also an ideal spot for weddings, receptions, recitals, etc. The citation on the back of this postcard says "HOTEL THOMAS -- Gainesville, Florida 'The University City' Hotel Thomas was designed and built to meet both the requirements of permanent residents and those of winter visitors to Gainesville and to Florida. The beautifully landscaped grounds cover a large area and are located within a few minutes walk of the business district. This beauty of setting, together with a charmingly, hospitable and homelike atmosphere, will make your stay at Hotel Thomas one to be happily remembered. P. E. THOMAS, Manager." This postcard is dated April 12, 1940, and was copied with the permission of Archie L. Jackson.
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