Public School Number Four
Public School Number Four began its history in 1915 when the residents of Duval County approved a one million dollar bond to build several new public schools. Construction was started in
1917 and completed in 1918 by the contractor Florida Engineering for a cost of $250,000. The architect for the project, Rutledge Holmes, relocated to Jacksonville after the Great Fire of
1901 and designed several of Jacksonville's famous landmarks.
The school would eventually be named Annie Lytle Elementary, for a longtime former teacher and principal. Originally the school overlooked Riverside Park until the construction of the I-95 and
I-10 interchange in the 1950's isolated it. In 1960, the last students would walk through the hallways before the school was closed to the public. Although there is no evidence, the building may have been used by Central Christian School in the late 60's and early 70's. Regardless, the city condemned the building in 1971 and used it for office and storage space.
The front facade of Annie Lytle is dominated by Doric Columns which support a neo-classical pediment portico. The classrooms were located on the 2nd floor which featured high ceilings with large windows. The offices, library, auditorium, and the cafeteria with a large fireplace were located on the 1st floor of the school. A narrow set of passageways run underneath the school to a boiler room, a room which is full of legends.
Over the years vandalism and arson have taken a toll on the school. In 1995, a fire destroyed the roof of the auditorium causing it to collapse. In 2011 another fire, once again started in the auditorium caused some minor roof damage, but fortunately no structural damage.
On October 29th of 1999, Foundation Holding Inc. purchased the property with plans to demolish the existing school and build in its place "Lytle Place Condominiums". The idea was denounced by the public and by surrounding historical societies. In response the city of Jacksonville designated the building a historic landmark in 2000.
Although the school is now a historic landmark, every year it still faces demolition. The school will always be known for its haunting legends of suicidal teachers, murders and a psychotic janitor. Rumor had it, the janitor would lead kids down to the furnace and burn them alive, Freddy Krueger style. And so the legend goes, one kid was able to escape and caused the furnace to explode, burning some of the school. As a result of the legends, the school has earned the nickname "Devil's School" by local residents.
1. Davis, Ennis. "Ruins of Jacksonville: Annie Lytle Public School." Metro Jacksonville.
N.p., 1 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 June 2012. <http://www.metrojacksonville.com/>.
2. "Endangered Buildings." Endangered Buildings. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2012.
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