This is where Gainesville was born.
Alachua County’s original seat of government, Newnansville, having been passed over by not one but two railroad lines, was deemed too remote. So in 1854 we had a picnic at Boulware Springs and voted to make Gainesville the center of county government. This because abundant water was literally spewing out of the ground.
This of course, inevitably set the stage for Gainesville’s growth.
The first waterworks consisted of a simple split-level structure powered by a wood-fired steam boiler.
Producing 194,000 gallons a day it was Gainesville’s main source of water for half a century. Indeed, the promise of “free” Boulware Springs water lured the University of Florida to town.
Although it sits at the trailhead of the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, the old waterworks is now closed up, windows shuttered, and awaiting restoration.
If not for a few artistic touches here and there, the old building would be a sad sight indeed.
But hope, like water, springs eternal. Flaws notwithstanding, it is still a beautiful structure.
This is, after all, where it all began for Gainesville. A piece of history, certainly worth preserving and celebrating.
Because water is destiny.
The building dates to 1905, and age notwithstanding, its reinforced brick walls – the “bones” – are still good.
“The variegated yellow-to-pink color and relative softness of the brick indicates that it was fired of local clay, possibly at the long-defunct Campville Brickworks in east Alachua County.” From the National Register of Historic Places nomination form.
After the first of the year, city commissioners will be asked to add Boulware Springs restoration to the list of park improvement projects. And who can turn it down? It’s where we came from, after all.