Public School Number Four

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!


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4 responses to “Public School Number Four”

  1. ross says :

    why no photos of the underground portion? That’s the fun and supposedly “haunted” part.


    • Kelly says :

      I was down there for a bit but as you can imagine, the lighting conditions are pretty hard to shoot because there is absolutely no natural light.

      Also, I’m not there because I think it’s haunted. I go because I am interested in the history, architecture and decay of the building. There are a lot of legends regarding this place being ‘haunted’ but this is a real place, not a movie. I hope you enjoyed the photos of the rest of the building though!


      • Anna M. says :

        I am absolutely intrigued with this place. I live here in Jacksonville and every time i’m in the car, i find myself all the way twisted around trying to catch one last glimpse. I’ve read so much about this place, and i think it would be a shame if it was to be demolished. It’s a part of Jacksonville history and i say it ought to be restored and used for much better purposes.


  2. Jimmie says :

    Some friends and I went into the school about 7 years ago…the graffiti wasn’t quite as bad then and it was before the second fire. It was absolutely beautiful. We went at night and had to climb a plank and jump in a window to get in. I love old, abandoned buildings….whenever I see one all I can see is the history and the potential it holds to become something again. It is a shame this school was left to just crumble.


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