Landmark school building in Orlando, Fla., will become city recreation center

Dec. 8, 2017
The Orange County district will sell the building that housed Grand Avenue Elementary School to the city of Orlando.

A landmark school building that closed earlier this year in Orlando, Fla., will be preserved and converted to a city recreation center.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Orange County School District will sell the Grand Avenue Elementary School, which opened in 1926 and closed in June, to the city of Orlando.

The sale is part of a land swap that allowed the district to build the school’s replacement, the Academic Center for Excellence, which opened in August.

Once renovated, the former elementary facility will host after-school and summer programs, a pottery studio and become the new headquarters for the Parramore Kidz Zone youth mentoring program. The city also plans to build a 900-seat gymnasium. 

Raymond Cox, president of the Orange Preservation Trust, which fought to save the school, hailed the city’s plans as a “win-win” for those who value the school as historic.

“It’s exactly what we would hope,” Cox says. “The fact that it’s still going to be used as a community gathering point makes it even more exciting.”

When the school closed in June, district officials were mum about its future, prompting preservationist to worry that it could be torn down. Their concern only grew when a demolition crew tore down ancillary buildings on the school property in September.

The main building, an example of Mediterranean Revival architecture, has a tile-clad gable roof, stucco walls and a parapet entry with columns and arched doorways. It was declared an Orlando historic landmark in 1995.

When Orlando handed over land worth $1.6 million to the school district in 2014 for use in building the Academic Center for Excellence, the district agreed to give back land roughly equal in value. Both sides have determined Grand Avenue School, appraised at $2.1 million, is close enough.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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