GNV Boltin Center added to preservation watchlist

Thelma A. Boltin Center in Gainesville
The Thelma A. Boltin Center in Gainesville. (Photo by Seth Johnson)
Photo by Seth Johnson

Gainesville’s Thelma Boltin Center joined 10 other threatened historic places on the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual “11 to Save” list.

In April, the City Commission voted for a $5.6 million plan called partial restoration, but opponents note that the plan will demolish the building, except for two walls, and rebuild from scratch.

“The nominator hopes to raise awareness and prevent the demolition of the building’s wing, as the only side of the building photographed in the 1940s and 1950s and the first thing servicemen saw upon arrival,” the “11 to Save” listing reads.

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The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit and statewide partner for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced the 2023 list at the Preservation on Main Street conference.

According to a press release, inclusion into the annual list serves as a starting point for the nonprofit to get involved, looking for custom solutions per project. The list is designed to draw attention to the sites and highlight Florida’s history.

“The 2023 Florida’s 11 to Save reflect the extraordinary breadth and depth of stories that make up the cultural mosaic of our state,” said Florida Trust Board President Mike Cosden. “By safeguarding these sites, we’re not just preserving buildings and landscapes, but also the diverse histories and voices that contribute to our shared heritage.”  

Also included in the list are sites from Broward, Charlotte, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Putnam, Sarasota and Volusia counties.

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I’d like to know, if they’re planning on demolishing most of the building and maintaining only two walls, why don’t they simply get a restriction on what type of rebuilding can take place and wait until it actually needs repair? Or does it already need repair? Is it too far gone already?

This kind of action reeks of impropriety, especially if the excuse could be ‘that’s what we’ve always done’. Further info and explanations would be nice.