Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lake Wauburg

One of the perks that come along with being part of the student body, faculty, or staff at the University of Florida is the Lake Wauburg Recreation Center. This is an outdoor facility with picnic pavilions, canoes, paddleboats, sailboats, water skiing, a ropes course, trails, and more, all just a few miles south of Gainesville on US 441. It's beautiful, and historic, nestled on the edge of Paynes Prairie, north of Micanopy.

Prehistoric Native Americans, Spanish cattle ranchers, Seminole chiefs -- all are part of the story. The lake and the park take their (misspelled) name from Frederick Warburg, a European merchant who, with Moses Levy, established a Jewish settlement near here in the 1820s.

In 1918, the University YMCA bought some land on the west shore of Lake Wauburg to be used as a student recreation center. When the YMCA closed, the University of Florida took over the Camp Wauburg property. In the 1930s, several buildings -- including a house, lodge, and boathouse -- were built on a hill overlooking the lake. In the 1960s, the University acquired some additional property on the south side of the lake, which was developed as Lake Wauburg South recreational area in the 1980s. In 1971, the state's first preserve, Paynes Prairie, opened across Lake Wauburg from the University's facility.

The Lake Wauburg Recreation Center continues to operate today, funded with student fees, and administered by the College of Health and Human Performance.

Please let me know if you have any information to add about Lake Wauburg's history!

Lake Wauburg History (University of Florida)

Additional Reading:

Moses Levy of Florida: Jewish Utopian and Antebellum Reformer, by Chris Monaco (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2005)

The Story of Historic Micanopy, by Caroline B. Watkins (The Alachua County Historical Commission, Gainesville, Florida, 1976)

Paynes Prairie: The Great Savanna: A History and Guide, by Lars Anderson (Pineapple Press, Florida, 2004)

NOTE: Even though "Wauburg" is itself an incorrect spelling, it has become the preferred name, not "Wauberg."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:22 PM

    You may be interested to know that UF's Lake Wauburg facility is within the original boundaries of Moses Levy's Pilgrimage plantation. This information is based on a deed of sale at the Alachua County Courthouse (circa 1850s).

    C.S. Monaco, PhD


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