Lee School: A Historic Educational Landmark in Leesburg
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About the abandoned school in Florida
Preserving the Legacy of Lee School: From Education Hub to Future Apartments
Lee School, also known as Leesburg High School, holds a special place in the history of Leesburg, Florida. This iconic institution has undergone numerous transformations over the years, from its early days as a private log cabin to its current status as a potential residential complex. Join us as we delve into the rich history and architectural significance of Lee School, while also exploring its recent journey towards redevelopment.
A Historical Perspective
Leesburg’s educational roots trace back to its private institutions, with the first being a modest log cabin located at the site of what we now know as Lone Oak Cemetery. Subsequently, a building on the present-day city hall site served as both a school and a place of worship, with the second floor doubling as a Masonic Lodge meeting hall.
In 1889, Leesburg saw the establishment of its first public school. At a time when county and state funds for school construction were scarce, Leesburg’s residents purchased a brick building on 13th Street, where the Melon Patch Theatre stands today, from the Florida Methodist Conference.
The early 20th century brought renewed prosperity to Lake County, leading to a series of modern school constructions between 1914 and 1916. These schools, including Lee School, not only provided improved facilities but also facilitated the consolidation of schools, resulting in more efficient use of resources. The construction of Lee School, designed to accommodate grades 1 through 12, was completed in 1915 at a cost of $40,000.
The architectural charm of Lee School is underscored by its designation on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. The main building boasts a distinctive design, featuring a central recessed block flanked by two wings. Notable architectural elements include a grand entrance with concrete steps, elegant glass and aluminum doors, and wood-frame pivot windows with a classic 1/2/1 light pattern.
The interior of the south building, while preserving much of its original hardware and finishes, has seen some modifications over the years to accommodate modern amenities. Notably, air conditioning was installed, and fluorescent lighting units replaced the original fixtures.
Transformations Over the Years
Lee School served all grade levels until 1918 when the north building was constructed. By 1926, 12 additional classrooms were added to accommodate the growing student population. Leesburg High School, located on 14th Street, was built in 1927 to house junior and senior high school students, marking another phase of Lee School’s evolution.
Between 1928 and 1974, Lee School functioned as a grammar school, doubling as a community center and hurricane shelter. During World War II, it played a pivotal role in issuing ration books and providing daycare services for the children of mothers engaged in the war effort.
In 1974, Lee School underwent a transformation into the Lee Adult Education Center, offering adults in Lake County an opportunity to earn their high school diplomas. The historic significance of Lee School was further acknowledged in 1995 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2008, Lee School ceased its educational activities, and the Lake County School District put the property up for sale. Developer Tony Benge acquired the property in 2014, envisioning its restoration into a 152-unit assisted living facility. However, these plans faced challenges, including structural issues discovered during renovation attempts.
Subsequently, Prospera Senior Living purchased the property in 2018, with similar intentions. But the deteriorating condition of the building led to a change in plans. To preserve its historic value, the smaller north building is set to be demolished, while the original 1915 building will be transformed into 14 apartments as part of a larger complex housing 49 apartments.
A Glimpse into the Future
As of 2023, Lee School still stands as a testament to Leesburg’s history and educational legacy. However, there is a sign out front stating apartments coming soon.
If you liked learning about the Lee School, you might also find these schools of interest, the Summit Charter School, the Kopachi Village Kindergarten, the St John of God Primary School, or the Beech Grove School.
Here is a 360-degree VR video of the abandoned school
Do you have 360-degree panoramic images captured in an abandoned location? Send your images to Abandonedin360@gmail.com. If you choose to go out and do some urban exploring in your town, here are some safety tips before you head out on your Urbex adventure.
Equipment used to capture the 360-degree panoramic images:
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