Annie Lytle Featured Image

Annie Lytle Elementary School

Photo by Far Enough, 2011
Photo(Far Enough, 2011): First known as Public School No. 4, it was renamed Annie Lytle Elementary after it’s long-time principal who stayed there until the school closed.

Originally named Riverside Park School, it was built in 1891 and was a small wooden school house. Due to a population increase in the area, wings and extensions were added to the building until it was considered a fire hazard.

In 1915, Duval County voters passed a $1 million bond to build more than a dozen new brick school houses. The school built over the site of the old Riverside Park School was first known as Public School No. 4, before it was later renamed to Annie Lytle Elementary School, after it’s former long-time teacher and principal. Built by Florida Engineering and Construction Company, construction started in 1917 and was designed by architect Rutledge Holmes, one of many architects who moved to Jacksonville after the Great Fire of 1901 and who’s work can still be seen today throughout the city, such as the Professional Building and the Holmes Block.


Photo: The photo shows the school while it was active.

It was completed in 1918 and cost over $250,000 to construct. Overlooking Riverside Park, the grand brick building had many beautiful features such as columns at the school entrance, a very large auditorium, high ceiling classrooms, large windows, and a large fireplace in the cafeteria. The classrooms were located on the second floor, while the administrative rooms, library, lunch room and auditorium were located on the first floor.

In the 1950s, the construction of I-95 and I-10 isolated the school, leading it to it’s closure in 1960. Sometime after, the building was used as office space and storage for the for the Duval County Public School System before it was condemned in 1971. There are stories that it was rented out to a Catholic school in the late-60s or early-70s, but there is no evidence to confirm this.

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Photo: Annie Lytle Elementary School not long after closing.

On October 29, 1999, Foundation Holding Incorporated purchased the property in order to build “Lytle Place Condominiums” in its place, but due to public outcry and pressure from multiple historic societies, Jacksonville approved historic landmark designation in 2000, halting any plans for demolition for the time being.

Abandoned 40 years ago, time has taken it’s toll on the old school house. Signs of vandalism can be seen throughout, as almost every inch of the interior walls are covered in graffiti and garbage is littered about. In 1995, there was a fire which lead to the roof of the auditorium to cave in.

The school is frequented by many teens and is known to the many residents of Jacksonville as the local haunt, famous for the rumors and legends that surround it. Of the many legends associated with the school, my favorite would be the story of the janitor who took kids down into the boiler room and burned them alive, until one escaped and blowing up the boiler room in the process, causing the east wing to catch fire….which just makes me think someone saw Nightmare on Elm Street too many times.

Photo by Bullet, 2014
Photo(Bullet, 2014): A fire in 1995 caused the roof of the auditorium to collapse.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2014
Website: Abandoned Florida

Photographer: Far Enough
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Flickr

Photographer: Drew Perlmutter
Year Taken: 2012
Website: Flickr

40 thoughts on “Annie Lytle Elementary School”

  1. I think this building out to be preserved. We tear down almost all the great old buildings in Jacksonville we need to save as many as possible. I am sure there are groups out there that would be willing to help save such a historic landmark.

      1. I went from 1st through 6 th grade…(1941 – 1947) there was no 7 th grade then…
        started 7 th grade at John Gorrie

  2. It’s very sad it got to this state of disrepair. Maybe our new Jags owner might be willing to chip in to save it? It would be such a shame to lose this building and it’s already a shame they were allowed to build the interstate that close to it. Someone with bucks needs to step in and save this old gal. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of pics from the beginning to the end, I wish there were more.

  3. The other night I was going through some boxes of things and came across a saved article from the TU. It was titled “Live in a landmark: Residence plans for old school renewed. Wish it was dated.
    Peyton was mayor at that time.
    I have ben over there several times recently. I am so saddened at the condition it has fallen into. The only positiv I see at present is that there is a group that does clean up on the outside. One man in particular seems to b there on Mondays. I spoke with him for quite a while. But, while trying to carry on a conversation in the back yard of the building I was totally aware of the terrific noise from traffic. I wish the place was salvageable but even if it was I don’t know what it could be used for. The noise there is deafening.

  4. I wish some folks, who went to school here, would come forward and submit some info about their time there. Maybe someone has other photos from school days. I know that class photos were taken. If you know ANYONE who went to school here, please forward this info on to us. We are trying to increase our presence and get assistance with this project. Thanks!

  5. I am currently researching my 90 yr old Mom’s past history while she resided in Jacksonville back in the mid 30′s. I no she lived on College street and walked threw the park to get to school. I do have a old picture of her on the (what I believe is Public School #4 or Anne Lytle Elementary) front steps of the school. I am interested in finding anyone that may have also attended that school in the mid 30′s or someone that has knowledge of that area back then.We are celebrating her 90th birthday in June and I was hoping to surprise her with some past history and memories. Any information would be helpful and much appreciated. Thank you.

  6. Wow! Wish I had seen this earlier. We are a group called ANNIE LYTLE PRESERVATION. On Facebook we can be found at: Public School #4 / Annie Lytle. We are a volunteer group trying to keep the building from vandals and trespassers, etc. Another of our goals is locating alumni to hear what memories they can share and any vintage photos of the school when it was in use. If you can help us, we would be eternally grateful. Patsy Bryant

  7. I am interested in taking pictures inside the school before it is completely renovated and wanted to see if you could tell me if the graffiti inside is still there and if we are allowed in?

    1. Well, you’re not allowed to go in there indicated by all the “No Trespassing” signs and I believe they installed cameras earlier in the year. The owners also had the entrances bolted shut for insurance purposes last month after a truck crashed into the front of the school. But people go inside all the time; it’s up to you.

      1. Don’t worry, the cameras aren’t real. Let’s just say, “inside imfo.” At least they weren’t last I checked. The school doesn’t have electricity and there is no wiring of any kind, nor are they in areas that could get solar power. Also, be careful, guys, some of the preservation groups people have threatened to take photos of urb exers they find online and try whatever they can to get legal action taken. One of their guys was even banned from an online group for spamming those threats.

  8. As one of the volunteers who have permission to work on premises, I would like to advise against going inside. The new boardings and other security measures have made JSO much more diligent in dealing with trespassers. If you go, and you go inside the building you are not only taking a risk of trespassing charges, the building is also unsafe in other ways.

  9. I visited the school a few weeks ago despite the city’s rambongois attempts to keep people out, and it was very cool. It’s a tribute to so many kids who used the school as a summer time hang out and tearing it down would be a sin. The graffiti is really cool and so far from vandalism. Worth a visit if you’re feeling adventurous, but I warn you, wear clothes that you don’t mind dirtying.

  10. i would like to volunteer on helping to either clean or something to improve this place if anyone decides to gather people for this project please count me in.. im so inlove with historic buildings and i appreciate that structure so much.. i really wish i could see how it used to look like.. i am also thinking about writing a fiction about the school..

  11. Hello, Trix! Are you on FaceBook? If so, you can contact me there and I could give you some information about our group and our meager efforts at clean up. You can contact me at JIMMYANDPATSYBRYANT. We have a FB page also, but as of now, we have stopped posting there. It is easier to contact me personally. We need all the workers that will help. Patsy

  12. Ive been to this school many times and took pis of it. Ghost have appeared. It is very haunted. Ive seen thing and heard things that would scare you. Ive seen ghost children. A female ghost. A tall dark evil cold shadow. My friends were with me that day. They saw it as well. I do know the first fire was in 1974. Ive had bad nightmares of this school. It is very haunted.

  13. WE ARE NOW 82 AND 77 YEARS OLD,HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 63 YERS, I JERRY LIVED AT 1115 GILMORE ST IN 1942 DURING WW2. . I MOVED TO LACKAWANNA IN 43 AND 44 AND MOVED BACK TO RIVERSIDE. WE WERE AT ANNIE LYT;LE WHEN SHE WAS PRINCIPAL..TED STRICKLAND AND BOBBY JACKSON WERE ALSO THERE I KNOW OF SEVERAL OTHERS ALSO.SOME HAVE PASSED ON. BETTYS LAST NAME WAS HALL.

    1. Please, please, please contact me. I am trying so hard to talk with alums and get their memories. We are a legitimate groupworking to save Annie Lytle. I would be so pleased to chat with you about your memories.

  14. Jerry and Betty Hale, would you please contact me. I am with the Annie Lytle Preservation group. We are doing volunteer work at the school attempting to prevent further harm being done there. We have been searching for alumni to interview and putting a list together of any students we can locate. Nowhere can we find any records. I am doing a small bio. on Miss Lytle (Housh). I recently visited the 2 addresses I have located for her. One, right around the corner from the school is now part of the belly of the Interstate. The other still exists at 2602 Herschell St. and is the process of renovation.. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  15. HELLO PATSY. I AM JERRY HALE.I AM 82 YEARS OLD. WE MOVED TO JACKSONVILLE IN SEPT. 1941. I STARTED TO ANNIE LYTLE THAT SAME MONTH. ANNIE LYTLE WAS PRINCIPLE AT THAT TIME. WE LIVED AT 1115 GILMORE ST. WHICH IS NOW THE ENTRANCE TO THE FULLER WARREN BRIDGE,NAMED AFTER ONE OF OUR FLORIDA GOVERNORS. I CAN NAME SEVERAL OF MY FRIENDS AND CLASSMATES THAT ALSO ATTENDED ANNIE LYTLE ELEM.IN 1941 AND 2.IFYOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS.PLEASE CONTACT ME.JANDBHALE@GMAIL.COM

  16. Jerry and Betty Hale..Hope you remember me from school..We all went to Annie Lytle together..Bobby Joe, Jean Paige, Jane Townsan. Belva Jean Whitaker, Dorothy Ames, and many more that I can’t think of now. Started in 1st grade 1941 thru the 6th grade. I was Barbara Rigdon and I remember ya’ll well. Still see Bobby Joe and talkd to Jean Paige..missed Bobby Joe’s 80th b’day. I am at Bobomitch@aol.com

  17. P.S. ‘There were classrooms on the first floor – I spent 1st-2nd-and 3rd grades on the first floor. 4th grade in one the “dogt houses” out back and 5th and 6th grades upstairs in Mrs. Landcaster’s class.

  18. I ALSO REMEMBER LEROY BATMAN HEMINGWAY TED AND GERALD STRICKLAND, DOROTHY HALL ROYHALL .WHEN WAS THERE EVER A 7TH GRADE THERE? THEREWERE A GROUP OF US THAT WENT ON TO JOHN GORRIE AND SOME ON TO LEE HIGH . I WILL CHECK WITH OTHERS TO SEE IF THEY WOULD CARE IF I MENTIONED THEIR NAME. YES WE KNOW BARBARA AND MITCH. ITS BEEN A LONG TIME. THIS IS GOOD.

  19. Hey I was driving (sitting next to the driver) down the interstate right next to P.S #4 i saw the burned school and couldn’t help but be intrigued by it. While passing by it i saw a firetruck parked by it and thought it recently happened. (If you know why it was there could you tell me. it happened 11/23/13) i would like to know if there is anybody that went there when the school got on fire. I would love to go there someday. hope they dont get rid of it.

  20. Leslie, I wish I knew what time you saw this and where was the truck parked? We were working there in the morning and there was no fire at the school during that time. One of the neighbors contacts us if there is anything of that nature to happen. If anything happened we should have been notified by him or JSO. I will be going over to check on things some time before Thursday. a routine check on things. Do that at least once a week. We do clean up there on most Saturdays. If I learn anything I will post here.

  21. I don’t think there was a fire that day but all I saw was a fire truck no fire or anything. I only took a small glance scince I was on the interstate. It might have been the front where it was parked not really sure. I wish I could go help but I don’t live in Jacksonville. Do you know what there going to do with the building?

  22. HELLO,THIS IS JERRY HALE.IM SORRY THIS OLD PLACE HAS NOT BEEN PRESERVED BETTER. I GO BACK ABOUT 70 YEARS TO 1941 AT ANNIE LYTLE. AND RIVERSIDE PARK/ THE SANDWICH INN ON THAT CORNER HAD AT THAT TIME THE CITIES BEST HAMBURGERS. AND THE GANG THAT HUNG OUT AT THAT CORNER ARE ALL GONE ALMOST.IT IS A SHAME. I WISH WE COULD HAVE A RIVERSIDE OR ANNIE LYTLE.I WILL GET WITH BOBBY JOE JACKSON AND SEE WHAT HE THINKS.I KNOW MITCH AND BARBARA WOULD LIKE THAT. JERRY HALE

  23. fire truck mystery probably solved: There is a fire station close by. Across from the school is a Jimmy Johns. Fire fighter stopped by for lunch but couldn’t park in the parking lot which has a strange layout. They have to park on the street since it is the only place that will work for parking. lol

  24. I was in the 5th grade (1952) at number 4. Teacher’s name was Mrs Gallop. I used to walk from Phillis Street to school. There was a big policeman at the intersection to help the kids cross the street. He was very kind and always had a nice smile. Does anyone remember him. We moved to the beaches in 1955 when the state took our house for I-10.

    1. Hello, I am a member of Annie Lytle Preservation. We are always searching for former students to ask them to share their memories. We are dedicated to protecting the building from any further harm and do clean up there. f you have FaceBook, we can be found there as “Save Public School Number Four / Annie Lytle;” It can also connect you to our website. Would LOVE to chat with you, if you are willing.

  25. Furst of all id like to thank the JSO for TRYN 2 shut me down b4 I culd tell my story. Thank u for tryin #respect anywayz.

    I got a testimony. Me an some boyz went in and came across dat gost janitor nigga who set da school on fire and burnd all dem kidz up. DRIX an evrybody ran an left me trappd insid. I hid from da gost until my cell fone died then climbd out of da hole. I have a different outlook on life now.

    $jamari jakob$

  26. Work continues by our volunteer forces. Looking back at some of the photos I can see the deterioration mostly by vandals. But in others, I can see progress we have made….especially in the yard. It no longer looks like a jungle. The building is SOUND! Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is working diligently to prevent vandalism

  27. While I have no history with this building I have shot there multiple times, yesterday to be exact, and this is a beautiful building and each time I visit I see more and more vandalism which is sad because there is some great artwork on some of those walls. None the less it is a beautiful building and hopefully will be standing for many more years

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