Dive into art, culture, and history at the Thomas Center in Gainesville, Florida. The elegance of the Mediterranean Revival-style building matches the nuanced displays and exhibitions within. When planning on visiting this esteemed establishment, surround yourself with more history and charm at Sweetwater Branch Inn. You’ll love our central location within downtown Gainesville, and small touches like our free Vacation Guide will help you complete your stay. Come explore the city!
What You’ll Experience at The Thomas Center
Before you roam the halls of this historic building, you should learn a little bit about its past.
The structure on the impressive estate was built in 1910 as a home called “Sunkist Villa.” As Major Thomas, the owner, acquired wealth as a successful mayor and senator, he added a three-story wing to open The Hotel Thomas in 1928.
The hotel was a huge success and housed distinguished visitors such as Helen Keller and Robert Frost. However, the family sold the property in 1968 to be used by Sante Fe Junior College, and after a threat to be demolished in 1972, the building was saved by the community by being registered in the National Register of Historic Places.
While visiting, exploring the art galleries are a must. The exhibitions are within the former kitchen of the home off of the regal Spanish Court. It’s in this intimate space where guests can view art produced by regional, national, and international artists alike. An example of the type of exhibitions you can expect is “A Walk in the Park,” which is a collection by ten local artists focused on the beauty of public spaces.
The Doris Bardon Gallery is another one of the lovely art galleries on the property. On the second floor just above the Spanish Court, you’ll enjoy the spacious, glass atrium which allows the sun to shine on and enhance every display. It’s a truly breathtaking experience walking through these halls.
A walk through the gardens may be one of the most relaxing ways to spend an afternoon in Gainesville. Magnolia trees and live oak fill the lush, green gardens and create a peaceful oasis. Vibrant azaleas bloom and reach for the sun, while pergolas draped in moss provide comfortable shade. Take a stroll and feel completely relaxed.
Sweetwater Branch Inn is only a 3-minute drive from the Thomas Center. Our Victorian-style inn offers elegant charm and features gorgeous gardens of our own. Enjoy the romantic Honeymoon Cottage that’s snuggled within the greens, has a large whirlpool tub, and features a plush, king-size bed. Enjoy a relaxing stay with us here in Gainesville, Florida.