"I see trees of green,

Red roses too,

I see them bloom

For me and you

And I think to myself,

What a wonderful world."

— Lyrics from “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

This is the season when “our” home here “Around the Banks of the Suwannee” begins to display just a touch of what will be a complete and beautiful pageantry of natural color including 10,000 shades of green. I can’t even complain about pollen as I see, once again, the eternal and always breathtaking beauty of a soon-to-be spring. I never tire of it.

It is a wonderful world and here in our home "Around the Banks of the Suwannee,” there are, nestled among well-known places and destinations, treasures if you will, that are right at our own back door. Some of these treasures are highly visible but some are those for which we have to search.

I am going to name a few for you in this article, and you may go on your own treasure or scavenger hunt. I have thought about getting with one of the local travel agencies some place, especially those who arrange day trips for those who are retired, and offering my own package called "The Jewels of the Suwannee River Valley" and serving as tour guide. I could certainly offer some insight for a place I love dearly. Here are a few places I might take you. We may need two trips.

Historic Adams Brothers Store re-opened as Suwannee Hardware, White Springs, Florida.

Adams Brothers Store, White Springs, established in 1865, and its building constructed in 1893 on the corner of Bridge Street and U.S. 41, have served as a place of commerce to scores of individuals through the years. Recently, the historic Adams Brothers Store had a grand re-opening and now is home to Suwannee Hardware, White Springs. Suwannee Hardware offers everything from a ten penny nail to a bantam “biddy.” Congratulations to Suwannee Hardware, and we do wish you all the best for a successful and prosperous future at a historic center of commerce.

The Blanche Hotel, Marion Street Deli and Pub, Blue Goose Studio and Halpatter Brewing Company, Lake City, Florida.

Recently, the Blanche Hotel re-opened to the delight of the citizens of north central Florida as a beautifully restored historic jewel located on Marion Street in downtown Lake City. The Blanche Hotel is sparkling again in classic beauty welcoming many who have chosen to live there in one of its very fine apartments, others who will conduct business there in one of its commercial office spaces, and, in the future, those who may want to pursue other leisure, social or commercial activities at the recently and beautifully restored Blanche Hotel in downtown Lake City, Florida. Indeed, it is the new “crown jewel” of Lake City’s historic district.

Lake City has among the glittering jewels as part of its crown, the Marion Street Deli and Pub and The Tavern located on Marion Street in downtown Lake City, The beautiful and careful attention to the original architectural and historic beauty of the buildings by business owner Robbie Robbins is something to behold. Great food and refreshing beverages served in a relaxed atmosphere replete with history. Thank you Robbie.

Another outstanding historic building is the restored old “State Road Department Building” now Halpatter Brewing Company home to Halpatter Brewery located in the original State Road Department Building, built in the mid 1930’s located on Hernando Street in directly behind The Marion Street Deli and Pub adds yet another historic component to downtown Lake City’s burgeoning and beautiful historic and commercial district located in the shadow of the always beautiful and symbolic Columba County Courthouse.

Kudos also to Janet Moses for her restoration of the old Blue Goose Restaurant at 174 Marion Avenue, now home to her outstanding and always sparkling and wonderful “Blue Goose Studio,” offering some of the finest examples of original folk art pieces created by “our own” Janet Moses. Unique, unique, unique, are the three descriptors that come to mind in describing Janet Moses’ Blue Goose Studio.

Falling Creek Falls, Columbia County.

About eight miles south of White Springs off U.S. 41 in northern Columbia County are some of the most scenic falls one will see anywhere in the area of the upper Suwannee basin at Falling Creek. The Falling Creek Falls are owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District and there is a lovely park near the falls. This was an area that was settled very early in Columbia County. 

The Moore Family, a pioneer family of the area, had a farm and homestead not far from the falls and not far from the Falling Creek Chapel, which at one time was Falling Creek United Methodist Church. The Moore’s came to this part of Florida from South Carolina before the War Between the States seeking the curative waters of the White Sulphur Springs and homesteaded a beautiful piece of property in this area of northern Columbia County.

Falling Creek Falls provide a peaceful setting for meditation and for reflection amidst a lovely natural surroundings. The tannic colored waters of the falls are very beautiful falling in an area that is surrounded by verdant greenery, old oaks rich with resurrection fern on their limbs and wild fern growing near the creek's edge. Truly an often overlooked jewel in our area. Off U.S. 41 on Falling Creek Road, about eight miles south of White Springs in northern Columbia County. Don't miss it. 

The Historic Jail, Hatley Street Cafe, Hamilton County History Museum, Jasper, Florida.

Located on First Avenue in Jasper, the historic Hamilton County Jail was built in 1893. A two-story red brick Victorian structure, the jail, at one time, served as the residence for the county sheriff and his family, in addition to housing prisoners. The jail served the county as a jail for close to a century until the construction of the new jail at some time in the 1980's. 

The Old Jail has seen a lot of history and most recently gained some notoriety with those who have an interest in the paranormal who have spent the night there and declared the presence of ghosts. The jail has served as the Haunted House for Halloween for a number of years and also served as the historic museum for Hamilton County. It was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1983.

The recently opened Hatley Street Café located on Hatley Street in the turn-of-the-20th century, former historic residence of the late Miss Mildred Sheppard, and originally the home of the late Mr. Frank Adams, prominent pioneer citizen of Hamilton County. We welcome this new addition, in the nicely restored Hatley Street Café in downtown Jasper, Florida.

The Hamilton County History Museum on South Hatley Street located in front of the Virginia B. Chandler (Jasper Public) Library is opened on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. and is a treasure trove of Hamilton County History. If you haven’t visited, you should.

The 406 on Duval, the Historic Thomas Dowling House, Live Oak, Florida.

As always, the 406 on Duval, the historic Thomas Dowling House is a bright and hopeful beacon of gracious Southern hospitality served in a lovely, historic atmosphere. The cuisine is “touted” as “New Southern.” I would simply add to that descriptor “Wonderful, Delicious New Southern.” Each time I am fortunate enough to enjoy lunch, dinner, or “something in between” at the 406, I enjoy it immensely. If you haven’t checked out this wonderful place, I encourage you to do so.

From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.

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