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The Devil's School

In downtown Jacksonville, jammed-up next to Interstate 10, stands an old brown, brick school building with more legends than you can stir with a stick, this is the infamous “Devil’s School.” It is known by Jacksonville’s teenagers as “the most haunted place in town.” In reality this was Duval County’s Public School No.4. The old building with tall white columns standing like sentinels at the entrance is supposed to be haunted, but if we are to believe the tales, then ghosts were the minor players in this evil place. The hauntings began in the 1960’s when a furnace exploded killing half the students, a few faculty members, and the janitor.

Ever since this tragic day the ghosts of the victims have haunted the school building. Allegedly the place became so haunted that teachers refused to work there and the school had to be shut down for a brief period. A priest was called in to exorcise the demonic spirits so the school could be re-opened. Well if that wasn’t enough, the school’s principal was a cannibal. I don’t know if all these evils took place at the same time or in some chronological order. According to the story, when students fell asleep in class they were sent to the principal’s office and were never seen again. This cannibalistic principal had a closet in his office that had been converted to a meat locker where the students were gutted and hung on spikes until he could eat them. We don’t know if any parents ever complained to the school board about any missing kids.

Then there is a tale about a principal going on a bloody killing spree and wiping out most of the student body. It’s curious that no teachers were victims of this vicious rampage, perhaps they escaped or maybe they were accomplices in this wickedness. We know that teachers can get fed up with unruly pupils but this is ridiculous.

If cannibalistic educators on killing sprees are not enough, there is another story that points to the janitor as the evil doer. Allegedly, the janitor went berserk one day and slaughtered a bunch of kids leaving the halls splattered with blood. If you believe that one, then it’s their ghosts that now roam the creepy old building. You would think that some of these problems could have been resolved at PTA meetings. With all this killing going on it certainly took care of over-crowded classrooms.

The most realistic claim about this school building that has sat abandoned for many years is that it was used for devil worship according to local ghost hunters who have explored the place. Attesting to this claim is the satanic graffiti that was once scrawled on the walls. Some people say there was a huge tree growing in the middle of the school, but others say there was no tree. Maybe it was a ghost tree, after hearing all the other eerie claims about this place anything is possible.

After a little research we came up with the real story behind this old school. It was designed by Rutledge Holmes and built in 1917 as the Riverside Park School. It was the first public grammar school in the city and was designated as Public School No.4. In more recent times it was called the Annie Lytle Elementary School. It is not certain when the school was closed, but the vacant building became a refuge to local homeless people and a place where kids held “initiations” into their clubs. The city officially condemned the place in the 1970s, although transients continued to live there. It was also a favorite place for urban explorers and a hideout for drug addicts.

Like most old abandoned buildings, it presented a creepy backdrop for evil legends. In 1995 there was a fire in the building that was later blamed on transients. There is nothing to support the claims of cannibalistic principals, crazy janitors, exploding furnaces, or evil teachers, although some pupils probably thought their teachers were wicked, I’m sure the feeling was mutual. The old building is now surrounded by a tall chain link fence topped with barbed wire; I suppose to keep the sinister stuff from escaping. As part of an urban renovation of that area, the building is scheduled to be turned into a condominium complex in the future.

Madness and Murder at the Devil’s School
Here in Jacksonville the old P.S. #4 is supposedly haunted. The janitor, according to local legend, went crazy and killed a bunch of kids. A tree is also supposed to grow in the center of it. The old school building is also supposes to be the local devil worshiping spot. It has recently been sold and is being gutted and turned into condos. I don't know if this is just urban BS because I have never found anything to confirm or denounce it. –anonymous

Devil’s School is a Spooky Place…Especially at Night!
Our ghostbusters club went in there a few years ago and explored the old building. At the time we were there, some bums were living in there. There were a lot of devil symbols spray painted on the walls and the inside really stunk bad. It was a very large inner city school and was used for many years. It was called Gilmore School and by many other names. I know it is suppose to be haunted by the spirits are children who were killed by the principal. They say the principal went crazy and committed mass murder. I don’t know if that is true or not. Another story said it was the janitor so I don’t know. You can’t get in there now because the city has locked the place up to keep the bums out and there is a fence with padlocks all the way around the block. It is really a scary looking place especially at night. It gave us the creeps when we went inside. –Kayla W.

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