Death of a neighborhood school: Inside Public School No. 8

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Closed since 2013, Duval County Public School No. 8 originally opened its doors to students in 1909.

According to Tim Gilmore, of Jax Psycho Geo fame, it's likely that the school was designed by Richard Lewis Brown, Jacksonville’s first black architect. Born into slavery and eventually serving two terms in the Florida House of Representatives, Brown's ascension in life mirrored the school’s neighborhood name.

Dating back to 1904, what is now known as the Phoenix Avenue neighborhood was originally platted as the Dyal-Upchurch subdivision by Frank Upchurch and Benjamin Dyal's Dyal-Upchurch Investment Company.

Dyal-Upchurch was a Georgia investment company that moved to Jacksonville after the Great Fire of 1901. Frank Upchurch had interests in turpentine and lumber, while Benjamin Dyal operated a sawmill.

The name "Phoenix" represented the city rising from the ashes of the 1901 fire.  A Phoenix Park Streetcar Line ride south took residents to Springfield and downtown Jacksonville.  A ride north provided direct access to Evergreen Cemetery and Panama Park, while a ride to the east provided access to Talleyrand’s heavy industry. 

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