The First Schools

 The first school in all of Dade County was in Palm Beach on Lake Trail, one mile north of the present-day Flagler Bridge. The building was 22x40 feet, and materials for it were brought from Jacksonville by schooner. The school board paid for the supplies and the parents donated their labor to build the school.

The school opened in March 1886 for three months. Miss Hattie Gale, age sixteen, daughter of pioneer Rev. Elbridge Gale, was the teacher. The first day, seven pupils showed up, and within a week, five more brought the total to twelve, ranging in age from 6 to 17. Their names were: Belle, Rena, Ella and Eugene Dimick; Ruby Dye; Ned Brown; Levi and Everard Geer; Robert, Walter and Willie Moore; and Nellie Simpson. 

 There were no roads and few paths so most of the children were picked up by the school “bus,” a boat. Julian Moore Rowley and his son, Julian, were the “drivers.”

By 1895, there was a need for a school in the new city of West Palm Beach. George W. Potter’s sister, Ellen, donated the property. The school was built on the southwest corner of Poinsettia (Dixie Highway) and Clematis Street. When it was time to start school, the building was not completed, so classes were held a block to the east, in the Union Congregational Church. For a few years, it met the needs of children from kindergarten through high school. In 1908, a larger school was built farther west, on Georgia Avenue, which was to become the center one of three buildings, part of Palm Beach High School. The vacated school served as a temporary courthouse for Palm Beach County, formed in 1909.