Former grammar school celebrates 100 years

Former grammar school celebrates 100 years
Loft owners Barbara Cesery and her brother, Bill

Live music filled the air while residents, business owners and guests enjoyed wine, cheese and tasty hors d’oeuvres served during a courtyard celebration of the 100th anniversary of South Jacksonville Grammar School Sept. 24.

The historic San Marco school, which was listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places on April 15, 2004, was converted to one of Jacksonville’s first examples of a live/work building, called The Lofts of San Marco, by Bill Cesery and his sister, Barbara, in 2001.

The building, which resides at 1450 Flagler Avenue, sits on approximately two acres of land and still harbors the original front hallway. Its former classrooms now consist of 31 residential units, including six two-story lofts, seven commercial spaces and a small gymnasium. Three modern townhomes, 21 garages and a pool are also on the property.

Built in 1916, the historic building sports an architectural style of late 19th and early 20th Century Revival. Its architects, builders and engineers were Victor Earl Mark and Leroy Sheftall, who were both students of famed Jacksonville architect Henry J. Klutho.

South Jacksonville Grammar School served as a public elementary school for 55 years until the Duval County Public School Board converted it into administrative offices in 1971.

During the celebration, Troy Winn of San Marco recalled being “intimidated” by the building when she attended first grade at the school 62 years ago. Today, the building sports a long waiting list as a sought-after location for local business owners and residents who wish to live and work within its hallowed walls.

“Living here is very, very cool, said Lauren Collie, who has resided at The Lofts for four years. “I can’t imagine ever leaving it.”

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