Early Schools

by Cleve Powell
Originally published in the History Corner section of the March 2009 OAI Newsletter

Going back in time to the English period when SaintXJohns Bluff was called Hestor’s Bluff, the English had a town of some 1200 folk known as SaintXJohns Town They had stores and pubs and probably a school in someone’s home. Then came the second Spanish period with its plantations, which endured when Florida became a territory and then a state up to the Civil War. I surmise that the wealthy plantation owners sent their children to private or Catholic Schools possibly in SaintXAugustine or brought in teachers to home school them.

During the reconstruction period after the Civil War, it has been documented that Napoleon Boward who lived at Newcastle in 1875 attended “Mill Cove” school, which was held in the home of a local doctor. This was probably the case for most of the residents, attending small schools in people’s homes, or crossing the river to Jacksonville by boat and attended schools in Jacksonville.

Duval High School: Located at 605 North Ocean Street. Believed to be the first high school. It opened in 1877 but was destroyed by the fire of 1901. After occupying several temporary locations a four-story building was constructed in 1908 and was the city’s main high school until 1927. The building still exists and has been turned into apartments. Everyone in Arlington who got a high school education locally went there. It should be noted that two of the football stars in 1926 were Lou Bono (Bono’s BBQ) and Mike Hauser who later became the Dean of Boys at Landon High School in 1953/54.

Stanton High School, 521 West Ashley: This school opened in 1917 and was the only Black high school in Jacksonville for many years. It was the forth building on the site, the first being built in 1869 named for General Edward Stanton who served under Lincoln. After two burned, one in 1901, and its replacement condemned (the first civil rights legislation in Jacksonville), a new three story building was occupied from 1917 to 1971 (when it closed). Segregation was banned in 1965. I have talked to several Black people from Arlington, and they all went to Stanton.

Early grammar schools in Arlington: Before Alderman Realty Company opened the Arlington area up for development and created the ferry link to town, there were several small one/two room wooden schools in the Arlington area. The 1918 map shows three schools; the Eggleston School, which was located where Gable Lane now intersects University Boulevard; the Gilmore School, which was located on what is now Hartsfield Road, and the Chaseville School, which was a Black school on what is now Ft. Caroline Road, near the current Volunteer Fire Station.

The Eggleston community was founded in 1888. Later, when the school opened, it was designated as District School No. 46. It was later merged with the current Arlington Grammar School when it opened in 1922 and it took over the number 46. In 1916/17 the teacher at Eggleston was Miss Grace Fitzgerald; she had 28 students, many with familiar last names such as McLean, Bryan, and Frieseke. One of the Bigelow family members was reportedly one of the teachers in the early years. The school remained open for some time serving the 7th and 8th grades after the merger; some of its students were Richard and Hartley Steeves, and Claris Johnson.

The Gilmore School, which opened ca. 1890, closed when Arlington Grammar opened. One of the Gilmore School teachers was Mrs. Charles Sikes, mother of Walter and Neil of our organization.

The Chaseville School on Gilmore and later Ft. Caroline Road for Black students: This school may also date back to the 1890s. Per Richard Steeves who worked for the school board 1935-1940, “when I worked for the School Board we had several one room colored schools around Arlington; Chaseville, Lone Star, and Cosmo, there could have been more.”

Lone Star Grammar School, District school No. 125. This was a Black school located on the south side of Lone Star Road about two blocks east of Cesery on North Street; it no longer exists. It was probably opened some time after 1918.

Fairfield Public School, District School No. 9: Located at 515 Victoria Street (beside the Matthews Bridge eastbound) (). A two story building that opened in 1910 and remained open until 1971 (now a correctional institute). Some of the Arlington children including my mother, Mary Johnson (born in 1909), attended this school; until Arlington Grammar opened in 1922 they rode the Arlington Ferry back and forth to east Jacksonville. She lived on Lone Star Road, but often stayed with her grandparents (Bruce’s) during the week that lived near the ferry landing.

Arlington Grammar School, District School No. 46: This school came to being due to the efforts of the Arlington Community Club. A picture and history can be found on Old Arlington’s web site OldArlington.org. The school was a great boon to the Arlington community and probably was the reason for the consolidation of outlying communities to become known as part of Arlington. It is our oldest original public building. Most of the members of our “Old Arlington” organization that grew up in Arlington attended this school. Its first principal was Mr. Townsend, and Mr. Highsmith was its custodian. Per Richard Steeves Mrs. Townsend, the Principal’s wife, was his first grade teacher (she was mine also). The school covered a large geographic area eight miles north and south and six miles east and west.

Kirby Smith Junior High School, District School No. 25: Located at 2034 Hubbard Street. Kirby Smith and John Gorrie were built with identical plans and marked the beginning of Junior Highs in Jacksonville. They both opened in 1923-24, and Kirby Smith is still open with grades 6-8. Per Hartley Steeves 2-17-09, “The graduating class of 1926 (Arlington Grammar) had to attend Kirby Smith Junior High School. Transportation was not furnished, requiring students to ride a ferry boat (from Arlington) to Jacksonville, walk almost a half mile to catch a streetcar that took them to the downtown part of Jacksonville. There the students would transfer to another streetcar that would take them to Springfield, a suburb of Jacksonville. The junior high school was one block from the streetcar line. There were fares involved: five cents to ride the ferry and five cents to ride the streetcar. This twenty cents a day was too much for some families and was part of the reason for their children dropping out of school. In the fall of 1927 a bus carried students from Arlington to Landon High School in South Jacksonville, which was a separate city. At the time I believe all students within the limits of South Jacksonville and Jacksonville had to ride the streetcar. A five-cent fare was sold to students riding the streetcar; the normal fare was seven cents. South Jacksonville was annexed to Jacksonville in ca. 1930.”

Landon High School, District School No. 31: Located at 1819 Thacker Avenue (). It was named for Miss Julia Landon who was a teacher at Southside’s first one room Grammar School ca. 1910. She donated the land where the school is located, which was homesteaded by her parents after the Civil War. The school opened in 1927 and the first principal was Mr. R. C. Marshall; they had an enrollment of 554 students in the first year. The original senior class 27/28 had 17 students, at least two of which were J. R. Cordell and Mary L. Johnson, and maybe more were from Arlington.

Landon was where almost all of Arlington’s young adults attended school. In the years I went there, 48-54, we had one school bus from Arlington (driven by Mr. Malloy), which picked us up at Arlington Grammar School. This easily carried all the 7-12 grade students, which shows how small the population of Arlington was before the impact of the Matthews Bridge hit. Landon became a Middle School ca. 1964 for grades 6-8.

Hogan Spring Glenn Grammar School, District School No 64; Located at 6735 Beach Boulevard: It opened some time in 1939. Atlantic Boulevard split the zone for the children that attended Arlington or Hogan.

Southside Grammar School, Flagler Ave. It opened in 1948/49, for 7th grade students that transferred from Arlington Grammar to Landon Jr./Sr. High. After a week at Landon due (I believe) to overcrowding, were again transferred to Southside Grammar to attend the 7th grade. They returned to Landon for the eighth.

Dupont High School, District School No. 66: Located at 2710 Dupont Avenue. Built in 1940 as a Jr./Sr. high school. Due to the overcrowding of Landon some students from the Arlington area began attending Dupont (ca. 1954) and some remained at Landon. Dupont became a middle school in 1966.

Bishop Kenny Catholic High School: Opened ca. 1953, and some Landon students transferred there in their senior year.

Lake Lucina Elementary School, District School No. 85: Located at 6527 Merrill Road; opened in 1956. It was a much-needed addition to the community. I was on the survey crew that did the layout in 1953 and part of the land was a small pond.

Terry Parker High School, District School No. 86: Located at 7301 Parker School Road. Arlington finally got it’s own high school (ca. 1956) named for a local realtor and banker that deeded 30 acres of land to the Duval County School Board in 1955. The first principal was Mr. Friend. It had an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students by 1958. When the school opened, some Arlington seniors at Landon stayed and some transferred to Parker; the same was true with students at Dupont.

Woodland Acres Elementary School, District School No. 89: Located at 328 Bowlan Street, in the old Oakwood Villa section of Arlington. It opened ca.1955/56.

Parkwood Heights Elementary, District School No. 208: Located at 1709 Lansdowne Drive. The school opened in 1959 to take the pressure off of the other three grammar schools.

This is the last of what I consider the early schools.

I got a lot of dates from the “Jacksonville Architectural Heritage” revised addition, a wonderful book. I will be happy to add any information anyone can add to this for our Old Arlington archive.