Historic Markers Across Florida

The Douglass Center

Marker ID: FLHM F-1000
Location: in front of the former school on Douglas St, Live Oak, FL
County: Suwannee
Coordinates: N 30° 17.776    W 082° 59.848
  30.29626666    -82.99746666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMZ2JD


The Douglass Center

(Side 1:)
This is the site of the Douglass Center, a consolidated school complex that offered elementary, junior, and high school level classes to African American students. The center's origin can be traced back to the Reconstruction era. Public education for African Americans in Suwannee County began in 1869 with the formation of two schools, one in the town of Live Oak and the other in unincorporated Houston. The Live Oak school was renamed after famous African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and located on the west side of South Houston Avenue. This school occupied a two-story wooden building and was only open from June through September. A second school, also named after Douglass, was built in the 1920s. Donations from the African American community, combined with matching funds from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, financed the construction of a single-story brick school house on the east side of South Houston Avenue. In 1939, it was the first African American school in Live Oak to offer high school level classes. The school built on this site was the third in the district named after Douglass. Construction began in 1950 on the new 30-classroom school facility that housed grades one through twelve.

(Side 2:)
The new school was operational for the 1956/1957 school year. The campus featured a music room, teacher's lounge, office space, clinic, cafeteria, library, chemistry lab, and agricultural and homemaking departments. The physical education department had locker rooms with showers, and offered multiple athletic programs, including football, basketball, baseball, and softball. After the acquisition of school buses, many rural African American students gained access to a high school education. In 1965, construction on a new gymnasium was completed, the first one for an African American school in Suwannee County. With the integration of Florida's public schools, Douglass School graduated its final high school class in 1969, the last segregated class to graduate in Suwannee County. The school then served as Suwannee Middle School until 1990. It was renamed the Douglass Center and used as an alternative school until 2006. The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners acquired the campus in 2008 and adapted it to a community center. The Douglass Center is the last publicly-owned, historically African American school site in Suwannee County, and remains a vital part of the Live Oak community.

F-1000 A Florida Heritage Site
Sponsored by Douglass high School Alumni & Historical Assn., Inc.,
Board of Directors: Robert I. Ford, Rev. F.W. Williams, Jr.,
Annette Herring, Ruthie M. McClendon, Otis Johnson,
James Cooper, Annie M. Herring, Gary Caldwell,
Jimmy Cherry, Rev. Nelson Perry, Susan H.
And the Florida Department of State