Annie Lytle School (Public School Number 4) | Duval County, FL | c. 1917
Public School Number Four stands awkwardly in Downtown Jacksonville, its facade 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 location of the building 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.
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 graffiti artist* who wants to practice their pentagrams 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 redevelop 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.
Luckily, a group of volunteers formed in 2015 to help keep this building around, and in the past few years, they have shown up for weekend workdays to fix the damage that has been done over the years. You can learn more about their work HERE.