A. Quinn Jones exhibit opens Saturday at Thomas Center

This photo from a Lincoln High School Homecoming parade, which was taken in 1947, is include in the A. Quinn Jones exhibit. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 6:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 6:58 p.m.

Different aspects of the life of A. Quinn Jones will be on display at the Thomas Center to give the community a glimpse into the life of arguably the most influential educator in the history of Alachua County.



What: “Retrospections: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of A. Quinn Jones.”

When: Opens Saturday through March 20; reception 5-7 p.m. Feb. 17.

Where Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave.

Cost: Free, and open to the public.

Information: Call 352-393-8532 or visit www.gvlculturalaffairs.org.

"Retrospections: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of A. Quinn Jones" opens Saturday at the Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave., and will remain on display through March 20. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The city of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs is sponsoring the exhibit, which is being curated by Murray Laurie, a historic preservation consultant who lives in Gainesville, and members of the Lincoln High School Alumni Association.

Members of the alumni association will host a reception from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 17, also at the Thomas Center.

Albert White, a 1962 Lincoln High graduate and president of the alumni association, said the reception will be a tribute to Jones and the legacy he left at Lincoln and in the community.

"We will be there to host and to talk about the history of Lincoln High School as it relates to ‘Prof' Jones and the whole legacy that he left behind," White said. He said Lincoln memorabilia will be on display and he is hoping it will be a "gala affair" that many from the community will find the time to attend.

Laurie, who prepared the nomination for the Jones home on NW 7th Avenue to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, said the idea for the exhibit was born when the Jones home was donated to the city by Jones' son, Dr. Oliver Jones.

She said the contents of the house had not been made available to the community and discussions began soon after the home received its designation as a historic place about giving the community an opportunity to see some of the furnishings and other items that were in the home.

"This was initiated by the city of Gainesville," Laurie said.

Jones, called "Prof" by many, came to Gainesville in 1921 to lead Union Academy, an Alachua County school for blacks founded in 1866, site of the current Rosa B. Williams Recreation Center on NW 1st Street.

Two years later, Jones and his students, who were in the first through 10th grade, moved into Lincoln High School on NW 7th Avenue, now the A. Quinn Jones Center. Jones then led Lincoln to new heights when its first 12th grade class graduated in 1925 and a year later when the school received state accreditation. Jones was still the principal when the doors of the new Lincoln High School, now Lincoln Middle School on Williston Road, opened in 1956. He retired a year later.

Mallory O'Connor, acting visual arts coordinator at the Thomas Center Galleries, said approximately 100 items will be on display focusing on three of aspects of Jones' life — his early years, career and legacy.

"We want people to know where this man came from," said O'Connor, adding that there will be photos of Jones' parents and siblings and of his childhood growing up in Quincy near Tallahassee. She said there also will be information revealing how his parents inspired him to get an education.

She said aspects of his career will be revealed in displays featuring some of Jones' lesson plans and letters he wrote to different people.

O'Connor said she would like people who visit the exhibit to contemplate what one dedicated and determined person can do "in terms of dropping a pebble in a pawn and having that ripple effect go out over a wide area."

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