Our History - George Washington Carver School
In the 1920s, the black school children just called it "The School."
The small wooden building stood at the corner of N.E. 3rd Ave. and NW 5th St. - the first black school in Crystal River. Later, the school would have several different names before being named George Washington Carver Junior High School.
Some believe Mayme Mobley was the School's first principal, but most former students remember Emanuel Stewart, a 19-year-old.
The 25 children in each room sat two to a desk. More than one grade shared a classroom.
The desks and books were secondhand from the local white schools. Children exchanged books to finish their homework. To acquire better books and furniture for the school, it was recommended the school become a Rosenwald School like the one in Ocala at the time. Julius Rosenwald was part owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and founder of the Rosenwald Fund. Monies from the fund were used to help build and enhance several black schools in the South. The fund would offer a third of the money to make the upgrades and the community and local school board would each match it. Parents and teachers in Crystal River raised the money they needed for their part, but the county pulled their donation. They said they didn't want a Rosenwald School in the community.
Every day, the children sat in the same classrooms and studied arithmetic, music, health, writing, reading and other subjects under the guidance of their teachers.
At first, school was only four months out of the year - two months before January and two months after January. Then it increased from four to six and then six to eight. However, the school board would only pay the teachers for four months. Fundraisers were held to raise funds to pay the teachers' salaries until the school board finally approved to pay them for the full eight months.
In 1968, George Washington Carver closed for good and the school officially became what residents know today as Crystal River Primary School.
The original wooden structure stood for many years after the school closed down. It served as a community center and social hub in the black community until the building was demolished in the 1970s. However, black Crystal River residents never let the history of George Washington Carver die.
The George Washington Carver Community Center group plans to build a community center on the site of the old school. The group hopes the center will restore the site's former atmosphere of community fellowship and serve to educate future generations about "the school" that started it all.