Article by Ennis Davis, AICP
The Jacksonville Classical Academy is a new, two-story, 88,040-square-foot charter school in Mixontown, adjacent to Brooklyn. Located at the corner of Forest and Goodwin Streets, the property for the school was acquired by the Vestcor Family Foundation acquired the property for $1.4 million in August 2019.
Affiliated with a private liberal arts college in Michigan known for not accepting state or federal taxpayer funding, the school’s traditional curriculum will be provided through Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative.
The original West Lewisville School was located at the SW corner of Lewis and Goodwin Streets. (State Archives of Florida)
The new Jacksonville Classical Academy is the second school on the property. The first, Forest Park Elementary opened in 1954 as a replacement for the smaller West Lewisville Elementary School. Built at the intersection of Forest and Goodwin Streets, the school had an enrollment of 744 elementary students in 1955. Forest Park became one of eight all-black inner city schools in Jacksonville to close in 1971 after U.S. District Judge Gerald Tjoflat ordered massive crosstown busing in Duval County.
Approved by the school board in May 2019, the Jacksonville Classical Academy will open on August 20th as a kindergarten through sixth grade school. Adding a grade each year, the school will eventually become a Kindergarten through twelfth grade facility with an enrollment of nearly 1,000 students.
Jacksonville Classical School site plan (St. Johns River Water Management District)
In addition to the charter school, which is expected to draw students from the neighborhood and nearby downtown, the property includes recreational fields, a concrete play court and tot lot. In the future, a soccer field and 15,303 square foot gym will be added to the property that will eventually overlook a stretch of the Emerald Trail shared use path system that will parallel McCoys Creek in Mixtontown and Brooklyn.
A historic photograph of the long closed and demolished Forest Street Elementary School (Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Department)
Next Page: Inside the Jacksonville Classical Academy