Public School Number Four

Public School Number Four was constructed on the site of the former Riverside Park School. The original wood-framed schoolhouse had multiple additions since being built in 1891. It was eventually considered unsafe and closed after being deemed a fire hazard. In 1915, Duval County voters passed legislation to build a dozen new brick schoolhouses. Public School Number Four was completed in 1918 at a cost of $250,000. At the time, the school had a beautiful view of Riverside Park.

Public School Number Four

Public School Number Four was designed by architect Rutledge Holmes and built by Florida Engineering and Construction Company. The entire two-story building is solid concrete making it virtually fireproof. The Neo-Classical design features massive columns prominently placed at the front and side entrances. Classrooms were located upstairs with the library, auditorium, and administration offices on the first floor. The schoolhouse featured large windows and high ceilings with a fireplace in the cafeteria.

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Today, the school sits within a few hundred feet of the I-95 interstate.
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Even though “Public School Number Four” is inscribed across the capital, it was never referred to by that name while in use. The “Public School Number Four” inscription refers to the school being Duval County’s fourth public schoolhouse. It was known as Riverside Grammar School until 1950, then renamed Annie Lytle Elementary School after former principal and teacher, Annie Lytle Housh.
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During the 1950s, I-10 and I-95 interstate construction isolated the school leading it to close in 1960. The building was used for storage until being condemned in 1971.
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For decades the enormous building was a favorite hangout for the homeless, thrill-seekers, and drug addicts.
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Beginning in the 1960s, stories spread of hauntings and satanic worship. There were also rumors of killer principals, missing kids, and even a cannibalistic janitor that tortured kids in the boiler room. All of which is highly untrue.
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The second-floor hallway is more visible due to the lack of windows and natural sunlight.
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Police reports indicate a rape occurred shortly after the building was condemned, along with various other accounts of trespassing and vandalism.
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Every classroom was covered in graffiti, the only light creeping in between the boarded windows.
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From the second-floor classroom windows, you feel like you can touch the cars passing by.

In 1999, Foundation Holding Inc. purchased the property and planned to demolish the school building. In its place would be a retirement facility named Lytle House Condominiums. Some of the units were sold before construction even began. After public outrage and pressure from multiple historic groups, the City of Jacksonville designated the school a historic landmark in 2000, halting plans for demolition indefinitely.

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 In 1995, vagrants set fire to the auditorium causing half of the roof to collapse. Another fire in 2012 caused the remaining portion to fall. This photo was taken in 2014.
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In 2005, The Annie Lytle Preservation Group was created by a group of neighborhood volunteers aiming to preserve and clean up Public School Number Four. They hoped it would make it more marketable to a buyer who would renovate the school.
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The boys’ restroom with a large pile of trash waiting to be hauled away. These preservation group has worked extensively to make the school appear more attractive to potential buyers. They painted over the graffiti and have removed tons of debris.

9 Replies to “Public School Number Four”

  1. What a brilliant post – must have taken a lot of work to put together. I am fascinated by abandoned places so wil be looking at your other posts too. Got here via a post Mostly Blogging put up sometime ago but I only just read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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