Formerly an American Legion Hall the Matheson History Museum located at 513 E. University Avenue in Gainesville. The Matheson family early settlers to Gainesville since the 1860s. A photograph of the first store on display shows the first Matheson Dry Goods store in downtown Gainesville. Stop and visit a replica of the Matheson Dry Goods Store and see what people bought in the 1870s. Dr. Frederick Humphreys a Homeopathic Physician founded Humphrey’s Specifics in the mid-1840s. From mild powder cures to curing infant diseases like colic and slow growth.A timeline of events inside the exhibit hall from the British Period to when Florida becomes a territory. During territorial times, John Bellamy a plantation owner from Monticello built the Bellamy Road and Jacob Rhett Motte, an army surgeon during the Seminole and Creek Wars wrote about life in the harsh frontiers of Georgia and Florida.A current exhibit includes posters illustrating the search for Ponce de Leon and the fountain of youth. Take a swim in the springs at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota and Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee. Before theme parks, people visited Silver Springs and took a ride on the glass bottom boat. A clear view of the springs while watching sea life looking down at the glass in the center of the boat. Silver Springs now a state park.
Posters describe Native American names given to rivers, lakes, counties and cities. Check the website for upcoming exhibits in the museum.
The Museum Shop sells tin cans as collectables, books about Florida, a map of Alachua County circa 1824. Margaret Tolbert’s prints for sale an artist based in Gainesville.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places Matheson House Georgian Architecture built in 1867 by James D. and Augusta Matheson. Our docent took us on a tour of the house describing in detail the history of each room. Original furnishings throughout the house except the bed and wardrobe in James and Augusta’s bedroom. During his lifetime, Chris their only surviving son became an attorney, Presbyterian Minister and a mayor. After becoming a Presbyterian Minister, he married Sarah Hamilton, and they lived in Oklahoma for twenty years. Sarah a teacher and missionary taught the Native American Children. They moved back to Gainesville where he served as mayor of Gainesville for 8 terms.
After Chris’s death, Sarah traveled around the world for forty years. Collectables around the house serve as a remembrance of the trips taken. Serving as a missionary in South Korea for 2 years teaching children English. Sarah deeded the house to the history museum after her death.
The Tison Tool Barn built in the 1990s. It serves to house the many tools made in the 1850s. Before automobiles, the cast-iron horse trough outside the barn used to water horses and mules outside the courthouse in the 1880s. The trough donated to the museum.
Gainesville founded in 1853 and named after General Gaines who served in the Seminole Wars. During the Civil War the skirmish in downtown Gainesville and the Battle of Gainesville occurred. The Confederates lost the skirmish to the Union Troops but won the battle. The docent pointed out the site where the Battle of Gainesville occurred.
While visiting the museum let the docent know that you want to visit the house. I recommend the museum, tool barn and house, so much history in Gainesville. Free admission to the museum donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.