Public schools started this week across Florida and it is unlikely few people knew that this is the 183rd year of Florida’s oldest continuous school. Leon High school is the 21st oldest K-12 educational institution in the United States.
Leon started as Leon Academy (see drawing above) in 1831, some 14 years before Florida obtained statehood. Growth for education was so slow that it was not until 1913 when newly named Leon High got a new structure. The present building at 550 West Tennessee Street was built in the 1930’s by the Works Project ADministration (WPA) for a whopping $500,000.
Critics at the time contended the school with its three stories of brick in a Mission Revival style was too expensive and too large, and the building was too far outside the center of town to grow. They were wrong on both counts.
While Tallahassee now has seven public high schools, Leon is the old symbol, with a huge alumni list that includes Governors (LeRoy Collins) to entertainers (Faye Dunaway) to authors (Jeff Shaara). . Leon was rated the 110th best high school in the nation by Newsweek several years ago.