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Floral City Elementary History


" my utter astonishment I found a school house full of children and a nice twenty-room hotel and dry goods store. This little town has a name but I have forgotten it today.”

In November of 1883 S.M. Hankins traveled in an open wagon through Floral City, Florida and made notes of his journey there. It may have been astonishing to Mr. Hankins to find a "school house full of children” but this bustling community of Floral City had a name and enough people to be laid out and surveyed by Senator Austin S. Mann and Surveyor W. H. Havron in that same year. Since that time Floral City has had five additional school houses all within a four block area of each other.

School House

A FIRST school was located on the northwest corner of Orange Avenue and Baker Street. A large bell hung from a giant oak to announce the commencement of the school day,

A SECOND school built in 1884 is the only early building remaining today. It has long been a private residence and is located on the southwest corner of Duval and Jefferson Streets in the original location of the town, near the lake. It was originally a two story structure built by James Madison Baker, a land owner of most of historic Floral City when it was laid out and surveyed. The school was later added onto by Jont W. Knight, whose restored historic home west of U.S. 41 on Orange Avenue also survives and is a show-place in the community today.

School House2

A THIRD school built in 1897 reflects the town migrated westward after the railway was laid through Floral City in 1893. It was located on the north side of Marvin Street between College and Church Streets. The second floor was used by the Floral City Masonic Order as their Lodge. This building was also built by James M. Baker. When a fourth school house was constructed, it was moved by the Masons to the southwest corner of Orange Avenue and Great Oaks Drive. It continued to be used as a Lodge until their present building was constructed and the old structure was dismantled. Fred Whitelaw used the lumber to construct his house. R.A. Knight also used some of the lumber.

Children standing in front of School House

A FOURTH school building served the educational needs of the community from c.1905/6 until 1926. This two story building was located on Marvin Street also, but it was west of Church Street and at the eastern edge of the current school property. After about ten years, it was moved directly across the street to the south side of Marvin Street and continued to serve as the school house while a new school was built in the former location. This fourth school building was then used as a residence for many years until it was eventually torn down.

A FIFTH school house was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (known as the WPA) at the site of the fourth school. It was a square building constructed of clay tile for the walls and stucco on the exterior. This school not only had a second story, but also a basement. Folding walls at the back of the upper floor formed three classrooms and could be opened for one large assembly room. Herbert Hoover's Federal Emergency Relief Association (FERA) was popular during this time and the basement served the community. A nursery provided daycare for mothers who came to work in the sewing room and cafeteria. Sheets, quilts, and all sorts of items of apparel were made here. The FERA provided material items but no money. Later under F.D. Roosevelt money was also provided. The building proved to have faulty construction and was demolished prior to completion of the current 1941 building at the northwest end of Marvin Street.

A SIXTH school was constructed in 1941 and again built by the WPA. During construction the children attended school in the 1897 wooden Masonic Lodge building (school number three) which had been moved to Orange Avenue. For a playground, the students used the area to the east of the Masonic Lodge and in front of the limerock Community Building, also a WPA built structure.

New School front

Today, the 1941 structure is hemmed in by expansion. Only imagination and careful observation reveals some original side windows and gable roof. Entering the building from the doors on Marvin Street one can observe that the interior of this sixth school structure has been well preserved by the Citrus County School Board. It reflects beautiful oak floors with tongue-and-groove walls and ceilings from the past.

When so many old towns have abandoned their historic structures and build new schools on the outskirts of town, the community of Floral City supports and embraces the location of their school in the heart of their historic town.