The American Legion Building was not the first building located at 513 East University Avenue, now the home of the Matheson History Museum. The first known building on the site was the Florida Winter Bible Conference Tabernacle. It was constructed in 1906 by the conference to host their annual meetings, plus sessions of the popular traveling Chautauqua and lyceums. The Tabernacle had seating for almost 2,000 people and was one of the largest auditoriums in the state at the time. The city of Gainesville purchased the building in 1911 for use as a civic hall, playing host to local clubs, conventions, and conferences.
In the 1920s the local American Legion post did not have a permanent home so in 1926 the city donated the Tabernacle to the legionnaires. Unfortunately, the next year the building burned down. The American Legion members rallied and raised money for a new building, which they opened in 1933. Today that same Georgian-styled red brick building houses the museum.
Visit the Matheson History Museum at 513 East University Avenue to learn more about Gainesville and Alachua County History, including the two current exhibits “Return to Forever: Gainesville’s Great Southern Music Hall” and “We’re Tired of Asking: Black Thursday and Civil Rights at the University of Florida.”
Matheson History Museum
513 East University Avenue, Gainesville
Open Wednesday-Saturday 11am-4pm