If you’re looking for something to do in Florida during this pandemic, there may actually be something, if you dare.
Annie Lytle Elementary School, also known as The Devil’s School, is a place you don’t want to get stuck wandering around in at night. Located in Jacksonville, this old school has its fair share of creepy urban legends, from the crazy janitor who reportedly burned students alive in the boiler room to the cannibal principal. It closed in the 1960s, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t give Freddy’s boiler room a run for its money in terms of giving whoever dares go here a scary and uneasy feeling.
Indeed, exploring inside the school is not an option for the brave souls who dare venture here. There were reportedly satanic rituals that took place inside. A principal of the school also went on a murderous rampage against the students. These stories are claimed not to be true, but, hey, you never know.
Would you still come see the outside at night? Yeah, we didn’t think so either.
But that’s ok; we’re here to give you a guided tour of the place anyways (and during the day, of course).
Annie Lytle Elementary School was first known as Riverside Park School. It had been built in 1891 as a small wooden schoolhouse. In 1915, Duval County voters passed a $1 million bond to build more than a dozen new brick schoolhouses. The enormous schoolhouse was initially christened as Public School Number Four, but was renamed Annie Lytle Elementary in 1957 in honor of a former principal. The school was destined to be open for only a few years before eventually shutting down and being shuttered completely.
The highway systems of I-95 and I-10 were constructed in Jacksonville in the 1950s, making the intersection a mere hundred feet from Annie Lytle Elementary. The school became isolated and inconvenient to get to, and the sound of traffic would drown out classes on the second floor, which is why the school closed down.
Time has not been kind to the building inside. It looks better on the outside than on the inside. Vandals have covered the walls with graffiti, and for a long time the building was plagued by squatters.
The building was sold in 1980 for $168,000 to the Ida Stevens Foundation in hopes of renovating it for senior citizen apartments. Due to federal funding programs, the building was not renovated. The building has been vacant for over 20 years, falling into disrepair.
A fire erupted at the vacant building in 1995, leading to the auditorium roof to cave in.
In 1999 Foundation Holding Incorporated purchased the property to convert it into condominiums, but public outcry resulted in the school becoming a designated historic landmark in 2000.
Tarpon IV LLC purchased the building in 2011 for an $86,600 tax deed.
Hopefully, one day, this building can be restored to its former glory, although many people say it is now beyond repair due to the state of the building. Still, we can only hope that time will tell.
Mike has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and public relations. He once owned his own agency and has worked with some of the largest brands in the world.