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Ask The Times: Questions about Gainesvilles triangle and square
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When Academy Street was put in, it cut Carl Lawson’s property into a triangle so he built a triangle-shaped building for his business. - photo by Tom Reed

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

What was the original business in the triangle building across from the main library? Who built it and why triangle?

The Carl Lawson Agency was housed in the pyramid-shaped building erected in the late 1960s and located at 310 Academy St.

The street was put in about 1964, cutting Carl Lawson’s property into a triangle shape, hence the idea for the building shape, Lawson told The Times in a 2008 interview. “Bear” George Newton Jr. was the architect.

“He came down there every day and drew on a little shingle on what he wanted (the builders) to do because it was so unusual and the builders didn’t know how to do it,” Lawson said in 2008.

Lawson ran his business out of the property until selling in the late 1980s.

Currently Charles W. Pittman Jr., of Pittman Investments LLP, owns the building.

A question about the square: It once was round and now it is square. Why the change?

The downtown square area was renovated likely in the 1950s from circle to square to discourage cruisers, according to multiple sources.

“That’s where all the young folks met,” local historian Gordon Sawyer said. “And they would get there early and park their car in the center of the square, sit on the back end of it and wave at everybody going by and flirt with each other.”

The old design allowed for cars to park on the inside of the roadway as well as the outside.

Though Sawyer wasn’t sure of the exact timing of the square renovation, he said the Gainesville Jaycees did some landscaping work following the changes.

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