Annie Lytle Elementary School

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annie-lytle-school

The photo shows the school while it was active.

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.

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Annie Lytle Elementary School not long after closing.

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.

Photo by Bullet, 2014

Photo Credit: Bullet, 2014 – The roof of the auditorium collapsed in 1995 due to fire damage.

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.

  • Photographer: Bullet
    Year Taken: 2014
    Website: Abandoned Florida
  • Photographer: Far Enough
    Year Taken: 2011
    Website: Flickr
  • Photographer: Drew Perlmutter
    Year Taken: 2012
    Website: Flickr
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About Author

I was born and raised in South Florida and have lived here since. I began urban exploring in 2009 after watching a documentary about it and becoming interested in the history and things people had left behind. My love for photography grew from it as a way to share these places with others.

42 Comments

  1. Barbara (Rigdon) Mitchell on

    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

  2. Barbara (Rigdon) Mitchell on

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. Jamari Jakob on

    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.

    $jamari jakob$

  11. 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

  12. Andrew McLaughlin on

    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

  13. Even if the whole school can’t be saved, just the shell of the auditorium would make an amazing outdoor performance venue if it could be restored, with the stage still intact and the balcony in the back.

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