George C. Miller Jr. Middle Schoolc. 1927, Classical Revival style - 101 S. Prospect St.
The George C. Miller, Jr. Middle School was constructed in 1927 to replace a "temporary" wood frame schoolhouse that had been use for nearly a decade after the Gilbert Institute burned in 1918. The building was designed by the prominent Jacksonville architectural firm Mark & Sheftal and constructed by contractor A.E. Itner. The partnership of Leeroy Mark and Victor Earl Sheftal began in 1911 when both were working under the apprenticeship of Henry J. Klutho, Jacksonville's most significant architect of the early twentieth century. After establishing their own firm, the two gained an excellent reputation for Prairie style residential construction. Their school designs also won praise, and they ultimately drew plans for more than fifty schools throughout the state. The first classes at the Crescent City High School, as it was originally known, were held on September 12, 1927. The enrollment that year was 144, the largest the high school ever experienced. In its original configuration, the $165,000 building was two stories in height with a full basement. It had eighteen large classrooms with banks of double-hung sash windows that provided light and ventilation and a 700-seat auditorium with a stage and balcony. There were also rooms for a library, teacher's lounge, principal's office, cafeteria, and a laboratory. A writer for the Courier-Journal noted that the building was "so constructed that it is almost impossible for fire to do any damage." Despite that claim, the school suffered extensive damage in a fire that took place in 1951. The initial estimates of the damage indicated that the entire remaining structure would have to be razed and a new school constructed on the site. Ultimately, however, the building was reconstructed using the walls of the original school. Although the present building is largely a product of that 1951 reconstruction, it possesses historical significance as the only remaining educational building in Crescent City constructed during the historic period.
© 2023 Fruitland Peninsula Historical Society