Public School Number Four stands awkwardly in Downtown Jacksonville, oddly masked by the ramps and interstates which have been constructed around her, almost as if the building didn’t stand there. Built in 1917, the school was first known as Public School Number Four and then renamed Annie Lytle Elementary. Once a grand building with a large auditorium, beautiful columns and impressive staircases, the buildings location in Jacksonville eventually led to its closure by the School Board in the 1960s. Eventually, the building was used as office space and then condemned in 1971.
Sitting in disuse for more than 40 years, the building has fallen victim to vandals, vagrants, criminals and arsonists. In January 2012, part of the school caught fire (again) destroying what was left of the auditorium (see below).
The auditorium, pre-2012 fire
Numerous urban legends surround this school, with tales of murderous custodians, student deaths and cult activity. The only thing I saw evidence of was substance abuse in the form of Natural Light beer cans strewn everywhere. Unfortunately, the school has become a regular hotel for the homeless of Jacksonville.
It has sadly also become the canvas for every local artist* who wants to practice his or her pentograms and bubble lettering.
Public School Number Four was given a historic designation in 2000, in part to save it from being demolished to make way for new apartments. Since then, many other proposals to redevelopment the property have been offered, but none has stuck. In my visit, it was obvious that any attempts to restore this once fine structure would be difficult. With its unfortunate placement in an undesirable area and two large interstates blocking its grand facade, making a case for this crime trap might be impossible at this point.
My photos of Public School Number Four were featured on AbandonedFl’s website. Check it out!
Long forgotten and on its last legs stands* Island Grove Methodist Church. Located in a modern-day ghost town, this 19th century (circa 1885) church opened its doors and provided religious service and ceremony for local farmers, fishermen and citrus growers until 1972. Harsh winters, tough times and shifting industry forced most out of the area and further south, leaving this once-blossoming community to fall into historical obscurity. Structures like this one are few and far between but stand like tombstones marking the places where life used to happen. The floor is sinking into the ground. The back wall has become largely detached from the main structure. The interior ceiling is collapsing. Even the steeple is missing.
A building like this is a museum in its most real, unadulterated form. But the last 40 years of disuse certainly show. It will be a sad day when I visit this site and the church no longer stands. But for now, there is someone who cares about this place. The current landowner stepped in to buy the property (and protect the church) when it was scheduled to be torn down and replaced the old roof. Thankfully, people like this exist.
To see more photos of North Florida’s forgotten landmarks, please see my flickr set
Thanks to Black Doll for the information!