Historic Markers Across Florida

Orange Park Normal and Industrial School Site

Marker ID: FLHM F-985
Location: in front of city hall at 2042 Park Ave, Orange Park, FL
County: Clay
Coordinates: N 30° 09.897    W 081° 42.089
  30.16495    -81.70148333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMXRZ0


Orange Park Normal and Industrial School Site

The 1885 Florida Constitution mandated the segregated education of black and white students in public schools. In 1891, the American Missionary Association (AMA) opened the private Orange Park Normal and Industrial School at this site to educate black students. It consisted of several buildings which housed classrooms, dormitories, and workshops. Due to the school's success, white children began to attend. This attracted the attention of Florida's Superintendent of Public Instruction William Sheats, a staunch segregationist. In response, he pushed the state legislature to pass a law in 1895 that prohibited any Florida school, public or private, from teaching black and white students together. The Orange Park Normal School was the only racially-integrated school in the state at that time. The AMA fought the law, and the case went to court, where Judge R.M. Call ruled against the State of Florida. Although the AMA won the case, the damage was done. Public sentiment against the school increased among whites. By 1917, the AMA closed the school. Although segregation persisted in Florida for another 50 years, this school was a pioneering example of integration in education.

F-985 Sponsored by The Town of Orange Park, Historical Society of Orange Park,
and the Florida Department of State