“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Gainesville in Alachua County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)

The Gainesville Servicemen's Center / Thelma Boltin Center

The Gainesville Servicemen's Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, February 3, 2013
1. The Gainesville Servicemen's Center Marker
The Gainesville Serviceman's Center
The City of Gainesville purchased the Servicemen’s Center lot on December 7th 1942. The Federal Works Agency constructed a $37,000 building with a ballroom, stage, dressing rooms, second floor reading room, three showers, three telephone booths for long distance calls, a coat check room, a 20-foot-long snack bar, and a kitchen with a ten-burner stove. The FWA provided sofas and easy chairs, a baby grand piano, a fiddle, trombone, radio, juke box, and a victrola. The city paid for kitchen equipment, flowered drapes, the mantle mirror, ping pong and snooker tables. They also paved NE 2nd Avenue and laid sidewalks. The Garden Club supplied and installed plants. Senator Claude Pepper dedicated the building on July 23rd 1943. Servicemen from Camp Blanding, the Alachua Army Air Base, the Officer Candidate School and the 62nd College Training Detachment attended events organized by program director Thelma Boltin (1904-1992) seven days a week from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM that included dances, plays, variety shows, sing alongs, chess, pinochle and bingo. Outdoor activities included badminton, barbeque
Thelma Boltin Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, February 3, 2013
2. Thelma Boltin Center Marker
and shuffleboard. Civic clubs provided funds and hostesses for meals including 400 dinners on Thanksgiving.

Thelma Boltin Center
The city bought the building for $12,500 in 1946 and retained Miss Boltin as Director. A 1928 graduate of Emerson College, she returned to Gainesville after teaching in Polk County 1930-32 and taught English, Speech and directed plays at Gainesville High School. The School Board employed her until 1956 when she moved to White Springs to direct the Florida Folk Festival. She was a founder, actor and director at the Gainesville Little Theater (Community Playhouse), chair of the Florida and National Federation of Music Clubs, received an award from the American Assoc. for State and Local History, was WGGG Radio's “Story Hour Lady,” artist in residence at schools, and assisted folklife programs in Dade City, Apopka, Cocoa, and Fernandina. She was known as “Cousin Thelma,” and “Queen of Florida Folklore.” In 1946 she organized the teen club at the “Rec Center” which continued through the 1960s. Local bands with Stephen Stills, Don Felder and Bernie Leadon played Friday night dances which Tom Petty attended. All four are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The building became a senior center in the 1970s and is also used for dances, wedding receptions and civic events. A $420,000
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renovation took place in 2000.
Erected 2008 by The Alachua County Historical Commission and the Florida Department of State. (Marker Number F-645.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EducationEntertainmentWar, World IIWomen.
Location. 29° 39.205′ N, 82° 19.245′ W. Marker is in Gainesville, Florida, in Alachua County. Marker is at the intersection of Northeast 2nd Avenue and Northeast 5th Street, on the right when traveling west on Northeast 2nd Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 516 Northeast 2nd Avenue, Gainesville FL 32601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. East Florida Seminary (approx. 0.2 miles away); City of Gainesville (approx. 0.2 miles away); Matheson House (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Gainesville Skirmish / Battle of Gainesville (approx. 0.2 miles away); Spanish Cattle Ranching (approx. 0.2 miles away); Roper Park / Old City Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); "The Great Endurance Run" (approx. 0.3 miles away); Alachula County Courthouse (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gainesville.
Also see . . .
1. Thelma Ann Boltin at (Submitted on September 18, 2013, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)
2. Claude Denson Pepper at (Submitted on September 18, 2013, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 4, 2018. It was originally submitted on August 15, 2013, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 519 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 15, 2013, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Wide shot of marker and its surroundings, photo of the building. • Can you help?
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Apr. 5, 2020