Mark V. Barrow, MD: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Published: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.

In 1989 at the height of a very successful career as a cardiologist and after working with his wife Mary to rehabilitate many grand old homes in order to preserve the historical ambiance of downtown Gainesville, Mark Barrow assembled a group of faculty (Roy Hunt), retired faculty (Marinus Latour and Les May), local historians (Murray Laurie and Carla Summers, UF archivist), generous history enthusiasts (Sarah Matheson and Barbara Fearney), historical personages of note, such as Helen Ellerbee, a librarian who as a young woman was one of the first WAC's in World War II ) as well as Gainesville's new City Arborist (me). Our mission was to prepare a grant to purchase the old American Legion Building at 513 E. University Avenue and transform it into a local historical museum and archives. The building was a gem in the rough, in use at that time principally as a side tap bar with a large main room where punk music concerts rocked the neighborhood!


Category: Community Service

About Mark V. Barrow, MD

Occupation: Cardiologist, Retired; Author; Historian

Years in Gainesville: 50

Spouse: Mary Barrow, historical restoration contractor

Children: John Barrow (Architect) Mark Junior (History Department Chair at Virginia Tech; Will Barrow, professional musician in Nashville); Angie Peffley (Hospice worker); Amy Brumfield (Physicians Assistant)

Nearly a quarter of a century later, Mark's legacy is in the remarkable exhibits and country store of the Matheson Museum and Alachua County Archives, the nearby historic home of Sarah and Chris Matheson which is open on special occasions to depict life in late 19th and early 20th centuries, and in Sweetwater Park. Since beginning the project, Mark has continuously served on the Board of Directors. Every step of the way, he was the organizer who piloted one project after another to completion. If he had done all of this as a full-time job, it would be remarkable. The fact that he spearheaded all of this as a volunteer, after long hours as a cardiologist and author of medical books, makes his gift to us even more extraordinary. One of his most recent efforts is the installation behind the museum of a botanical garden of every tree and shrub native to Alachua County. The plants are arranged in alphabetical order and each is labelled, so all can learn.

Under Mark's leadership and with his generous financial support, the spirit that has guided Gainesville to become a great community has been synthesized into exhibits that embody the pride of Alachua County. Newcomers can learn about the history of the place to which they are now connected. Those who have lived here longer can see memorialized the stories that contributed to the development of this wonderful place we call home. Knowing the history and aspirations of those who came before us, it is easier to become the kind of community that encourages innovation, artistic expression, conservation, and pride of place. Dr. Barrow's inexhaustible leadership has transformed downtown and given us the opportunity to identify and refine our sense of place. He truly embodies the spirit of Gainesville.

Submitted by Meg Niederhofer

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