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Knowles Public School  Winter Park's first actual public school building

In 1889, businessman and philanthropist Francis Bangs Knowles saw the need for the erection of a school building in Winter Park. Classes had been held on the second floor of the Ergood Building (which also served as the Town Hall and a place where worship services and other community events could be held) but, due to the increasing number of students attending, there was now a need for the construction of an actual school building. So, Mr. Knowles donated the property for the school. It was located at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and Canton Avenue. In September of 1889, the Town Council set aside funds for the erection of the school. And, in October 1889, the contract for building the school was awarded to the Coan Brothers and Alcott for $ 3,850.

The Knowles Public School was dedicated on February 11, 1890. The dedication service included: an opening prayer, a song by the school children, and a historical address. After a gave short address was given by the superintendent of the Orange County Schools, the keys to the school were presented to Winter Park mayor, Robert White. Finally, a benediction closed the ceremony. The school was, of course, named for the generous benefactor that donated the land for its erection.

The school was a 2-story building with two large classrooms. Miss E. Emma Dart  was named its first principal. In her book Chronological History of Winter Park, author Claire Leavitt MacDowell wrote that the school was "said to be the finest school in Orange County."
 


 
Item: Photograph
Francis Bangs Knowles
Date: c. 1980
Source: Winter Park History & Archives: Historical Photograph Collection

Item: Photograph
Scene: Knowles Public School & students
Date: c. 1890
Source: Winter Park History & Archives: Historical Photograph Collection

Item: Photograph
Scene: Knowles Public School & students
Date: c. 1890
Source: Winter Park History & Archives: Vertical Files: Schools: Knowles Public School

 

Item: Photograph
Scene: Knowles Public School
Date: c. 1890
Source: Winter Park History & Archives: Historical Photograph Collection

 

Item: Photograph
Scene: Knowles Public School & students
Date: c. 1910
Source: MacDowell, Claire Leavitt. (1950)
Chronological History of Winter Park.




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