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Thomas Dining Room
Construction on the two-story stucco building that is now known as the Hotel Thomas was originally started in 1906 as the private residence of a wealthy phosphate man named Mr. Charles W. Chase. Work on "Sunkist Villa," as the building was known, was halted by Chase's death in 1909. Maj. W. R. Thomas purchased and completed the building the next year and raised his family in the mansion. As the children grew up and scattered, Maj. Thomas converted Sunkist Villa into a first-class hotel. The grand opening was held on January 10, 1928, with a general assembly at the University Auditorium at 10 a.m., golf and bridge tournaments at the Gainesville Golf & Country Club at 2:30 p.m., outboard-motor boat races at Newnan's Lake at 3 p.m., a parade at 5:30 p.m., a dinner for 200, hosted by Maj. Thomas, at 8 p.m., and dancing beginning at 11 p.m. 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 for government offices. Today it is known as the Thomas Center, and it is Gainesville's "premier showplace" and an ideal spot for weddings, receptions, recitals, etc.
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