One lone streetlight reminds us how Gainesville helped win WWII
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.
When the United States entered World War II, it faced a difficult time against its German adversaries. The fledgling U.S. war effort lacked sufficient quantities of arms, ammunition, ships, planes, tanks and other equipment.
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When a national call went out for donations of scrap metal to build the needed supplies, people in cities all over the country responded, and Gainesville was no exception. The city donated all of its metal street lights to the cause —except for one saved by Sara Matheson, wife of the former eight-time mayor of Gainesville, Christopher Matheson. During Matheson’s tenure as mayor, from 1910 to 1917, he brought electricity — and electrified street lamps — to Gainesville.
Today, the street lamp rescued by Sara Matheson is the only one known to exist from that period in Gainesville’s history. It now stands, fully functional, in front of the Matheson House Museum, 528 SE First Ave., in the Sweetwater Park, the Matheson family home until Mrs. Matheson’s death in 1996.
And what did Gainesville get for its war efforts? The city donated enough metal to have a Victory Ship named after it — the SS Gainesville — a reminder of Gainesville’s contributions.