Thelma Boltin Center Update Scheduled for Upcoming Historic Preservation Board Meeting

City of Gainesville press release

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Neighbors are invited to the city’s upcoming Historic Preservation Board meeting where staff from Wannemacher Jensen Architects, Inc. (WJA) will present design concepts and a vision for the city’s Thelma Boltin Center. Anyone interested in learning more about the challenges of reopening this cultural monument is encouraged to attend.

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 6.

Where: City Hall Auditorium, 200 E. University Ave.

The Historic Preservation Board will not vote on any proposals at the meeting, but expects to hear from stakeholders. Council members are area residents who are appointed by the Gainesville City Commission, in addition to a liaison officer.

Built in the Northeast Residential Historic District in 1943, the facility originally known as the Gainesville Servicemen’s Center was a place of entertainment for American servicemen stationed at nearby military bases. The city of Gainesville purchased the facility in 1946 and later renamed it after its first director, Thelma Boltin.

The City is committed to protecting the future of the community by investing in municipal facilities and infrastructure. The meeting will be broadcast live on the airwaves of the City website then archived online.

Recent timeline:

  • 2000 – The Thelma Boltin Center is renovated for the last time.
  • August 2019 – The Gainesville City Commission approves a complete renovation of the center.
  • March 2020 – Closure of the center due to the pandemic.
  • December 2020 – City staff discover that part of the roof above the center auditorium appears to have collapsed and hire a structural engineering firm to assess the damage and secure the roof.
  • Nov. 2021 – The firm finds structural damage to the center and recommends either the demolition and replacement of the auditorium or the demolition of the entire building.
  • April 2022 – The City of Gainesville Commission asks staff to work with the WJA and the Historic Preservation Board on a plan for the property.
  • Spring-Summer 2022 – City staff collect stakeholder feedback and provide updates at monthly Historic Preservation Board meetings on May 3, July 5 and August 8.

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