School 4, or as it was once called "Annie Lytle School" after its former principal, is said to be one of the most haunted places in Jacksonville and where you will find many teen and young adult explorers earning respect of their peers by entering these ruins.
The school was built in 1917 by Florida Engineering & Construction Co. It was built over a basic wood frame school house that was erected in 1891. After years of expansions and additional wings built, they realized that this school was an extreme fire hazard. Thus the construction of what remains standing today was began.
The school housed many children and overlooked the beauty of Riverside Park. In the 1950’s construction of the I-10/I-95 overpass segregated the school from the park and cornered it in the end of its neighborhood.
Years passed and the school met its final students in the 1960 before closing its doors completely. It became a file house and record keeper for the Duval County Public School System until it was condemned and abandoned in 1971.
Rumors circulated of it being rented out as a Catholic School in the late 60’s early 70’s but no records have been presented to confirm nor deny this.
After 20+ years have passed, this school has become a rite of passage for locals trying to prove that they can survive in the hallowed halls. Rumors spread of murders, insane janitors and principals, satanic rituals, and many other wild fabrications of the imagination. The only documented cases relating to any of these stories are a reported rape and a fire set by a transient.
My favorite stories consist of the story of the janitor kidnapping the kids and burning them alive in the boiler room, a sole survivor escaping and blowing up the boiler room causing the east wing to catch fire. (Can we all just watch a Freddy movie and see the same thing?) Then there is the cannibalistic principal that would take the kids, lock them in his/her office, slaughter them, eat them, and burn the remains. I am sure there have been many that have circulated but these were the 2 that stuck out to me.
I first entered the school in the late part of 99 when the roof of the auditorium was intact and you could literally drive up to the school. Mind you, the place is creepy. You do hear faint sounds that can be debunked by the passing cars and the other people that are brave enough to pass through the doors.
There was a huge pentagram on the stage that has since been carved and burned out. Other findings showed that there may indeed be rituals performed there by teens trying to summon some entity. Nobody really knows the full back-story of these ruins left behind by visitors.
In the early 2000s I was stranded in Riverside and decided that the best place to stay was in the school. I slept in the electrical room that is to the left of the entrance. It was an easy night and I did not have any strange experiences.
I recently went back and have frequented the school for photo shoots and slowly the place is being torn apart. The roof has collapsed in the auditorium. Remains of broken TVs, loads of spray cans and beer bottles clutter the floors. Vandals have torn down all the doors save for one in a classroom that holds the closet. In this closet I found drawings and class work of the students. I looked for names and I found one done by a young girl named Tracy and a boy named Nathan.
The place is creepy for sure but nothing of any supernatural or paranormal evidence appears. POI intends on investigating the ruins more closely to see if we can find any energies, entities, or apparitions. My skepticism tells me that we will find nothing but dust and spray-paint.
Though it is a great place to give a scare to friends, it is a very dangerous building that is falling apart and the local law officers frequent it to flush it of vandals and transients. If you insist on going in without permission, you run a high risk of getting arrested. POI will follow all safety and legal roads to investigate this landmark of Urban Legend.
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