The Thomas Center Associates, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed in 1979 to support the Thomas Center for the Arts. Our all-volunteer group, guided by our Board of Directors, strives to protect, enhance and promote the Thomas Center. The building which began its life as a home over 110 years ago evolved into a hotel, then community college and now is a cultural events center for the community.
To preserve the history, we have created for viewing three museum-level period rooms, with furnishings from the 1920’s and 30’s – The Parlor, Major Thomas’ Bedroom and The Major’s Office. Other spaces – The Lobby, the Lucille T. Maloney Conference Room, and the Sam Gowan History Room – have been decorated in period-style and are available to the public for meetings and other events. Our Board funds new acquisitions as well as replacement and refurbishment in coordination with our city of Gainesville partners. Helping the public appreciate and understand the history of the space through it’s various uses is our goal.
To educate the public, we offer various tours. The Associates fund school tours for any Alachua County fourth grade class as well as private schools throughout the area. Bus transportation is provided as well as a Docent to lead the children through the story of the Thomas Family who lived in the house and how that changed when the building was converted to the Hotel Thomas. Adult tours are also conducted for interested groups. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more tour information. You may also take a virtual tour here on our website or a cell phone tour if you’re visiting the building in person.
To beautify the grounds, we attempt each year to identify and fund a project in the garden. Ranging from small projects to large, we have removed old plantings and added beautiful new replacements. On any given day you will find people enjoying the public space – relaxing on the lawn, reading under a tree, playing fetch with the dog, doing yoga with a group or walking along the many sidewalks. We endeavor to make the community’s use of the space pleasant and enjoyable.
To promote this beautiful historic building, the Associates are responsible for decorating the building for the Holidays. All manner of garland, bows, lights and décor – not to mention the 20’ tall tree that’s erected in the Spanish Court – are there for all to enjoy. The display is on view throughout the month of December. You can also join us for our annual holiday party – The Jingle Bell Ball – held on the first Friday of December. If you’d like to be included on the invitation list, please email us at email@example.com. In addition, the city of Gainesville holds a free tree-lighting event on the first Saturday that is open to the public.
Following Our Mission
Our all-volunteer group, guided by our Board selected each year, pursues goals that are being realized in many ways, such as developing interpretive programs designed to attract visitors to the Thomas Center and acquaint them in ways both enlightening and entertaining, to the significance of this building. Its history, the story of the Thomas family who built it and the eras in which it flourished in its various incarnations as private home, resort hotel, junior college and cultural center are featured. Remarkable enough, this very special building worked beautifully in each of these roles. | BACK TO TOP
Among these programs are the 1920’s Period Rooms, two of which were begun by the Junior League as early as 1975, with stewardship being transferred to the Thomas Center Associates in 1983 to complete and expand. The Parlour/Lounge, Major Thomas’ Bedroom and his Office are the only actual museum rooms designated solely for viewing, while the Reception Room/Lobby, the Lucille T. Maloney Conference Room, and the Sam Gowan History Room are designed to function also as much-used public spaces. All reflect Hotel Thomas decor, as this was the period to which the buildings were returned in the renovation. | BACK TO TOP
Another strong project developed, executed and funded by the Associates is a guided tours program for both children and adults. Every fourth-grade class in Alachua County is invited each year to visit the Thomas Center and the surrounding historic neighborhood. A costumed professional docent, a film, maps, games, and funding for buses to transport the children are all provided by the Thomas Center Associates.
In addition to the fourth-grade tours, the Associates offer docent-led tours for adult groups. The Associates provide informational brochures and floor plans for drop-in visitors to use and have developed a number of displays to make it possible to learn about a building, a family and an era even without a guide. For information on our Cell Phone tours, click here. | BACK TO TOP
Our involvement in the Thomas Center Garden is on-going, as we are working on a major exterior redo even as we continue fundraising to do even more. Expect our elegant building and its lovely, landscaped grounds to be more beautiful than ever as the work continues. | BACK TO TOP
Also important are the various community and social events produced by the Associates throughout the year to bring people to the Thomas Center and the Historic District who might not otherwise have occasion to discover these community treasures. Such activities include lavishly decorating the Center for the holidays and the annual Jingle Bell Ball, an elegant dinner dance. | BACK TO TOP
Thomas Center Associates publish a newsletter annually. The most recent can be read here.