Historic Markers Across Florida

Florence Villa Training School 1924-1925

Marker ID: FLHM F-675
Location: on Ave O, east of Lake Maud Dr, Winter Haven, Florida
County: Polk
Coordinates: N 28° 02.224    W 081° 42.995
  28.03706666    -81.71658333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMN50X


The Florence Villa Training School for Negroes replaced an earlier African-American school built in 1916 on the corner of 2nd and Palmetto Street. By 1922 the first school was in disrepair and classes were held at the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. Seeing the need for a permanent campus, local white physician Dr. Mary B. Jewett in March 1924 approached the Board of Public Instruction with construction plans and an offer to donate this land. Construction began in August 1924. Funding sources were as follows: Negro donations: $2,000; White donations: $11,000; Ad Valorem Taxes: $5,000; and Julius Rosenwald School Fund: $1,500. When the five-acre campus opened on December 1, 1924 the building consisted of six large classrooms, a Domestic Science Department and an auditorium. Enrollment peaked at 250 students. On the night of January 17th, 1925, a fire destroyed the school and its furnishings. The Florence Villa Town Council offered a $500 reward for information leading to the apprehension of those responsible, to no avail. This property was returned to Dr. Jewett in May 1925, and an alternate school location was chosen farther to the north.

The City of Winter Haven, the Polk County Historical Commission,
the Jewett High Alumni Association
and the Florida Department of State


More Information:
Wikipedia - Rosenwald School
National Trust for Historic Preservation - Rosenwald Schools, A National Treasure
Wikipedia - Julius Rosenwald
Wikipedia - Booker T. Washington