Riverside Park School was originally a boxy wooden-frame school house built in 1891 with multiple additions (due to population increase) until it was considered a fire hazard and unstable. Duval County voters passed a one million dollar bond in 1915 to build more than a dozen new brick school houses. This one was first known as Public School Number Four but later was renamed Annie Lytle Elementary School, after its former long-time teacher and principal.
Construction was started in 1917, Designed by architect Rutledge Holmes, built by Florida Engineering and Construction Company, and Completed in 1918 . It cost over $250,000 and originally overlooked Riverside Park, before the construction of I-95 & I-10 isolated it in the 1950's.
In 1960 the last student passed through those front doors and the school was closed to the public. It was used for office space and storage after that before being condemned in 1971 and abandoned. It may have also been rented out to a catholic school for a year or two in the early 70s or late 60s but is not confirmed.
The dominant architectural feature of the school is a Neo-Classic pedimented portico supported by colossal Doric columns at the entrance. Time also has taken its toll on the Annie Lytle School. There was a fire in 1995, the roof on the auditorium caved in and the building has been vandalized for years. It has served as a shelter for the homeless, countless thrill seeking youths, paranormal investigators, gang activity, druggies, and rummered even a group of hippies long ago.
On October 29, 1999 Foundation Holding Incorporated purchased the property in order to build "Lytle Place Condominiums" in its place. Due to public outcry and pressure from multiple historic societies, Jacksonville approved historic landmark designation in 2000. It has sat in its current state of disrepair as I-95 & I-10 interchange was built only a few hundred feet from the second story windows. The cost of rehabbing the structure was deemed too much as compared to demolition and new construction so it is currently back up for demolition.
Many rumors surround the school that tell of murders, psychotic janitors, suicidal teachers, affairs, and explosions in the boiler room. Police reports only confirm that a rape did happen once the school was condemned and many different counts of trespassing, vandalism, and B&E have and continue to happen.
Let's take a look inside.