Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, formerly known as The Florida School for Boys was a reform school operated by the State of Florida from 1900 to 2011. The facility has been closed since 2011 but has remained guarded at the front entrance through state funds. Last month, the state gave Jackson County an early Christmas present when they handed over the entire 1,278 acres of the old Dozier School for Boys property. That property will now be known as Endeavor.
Prior to the tour, David Melvin presented the deeds to the property from the state to Board of County Commissioners with Board chairman Clint Pate accepting the parcel. Due to the state having insurance on the property at the time of Hurricane Michael, the passing of the deeds was ceremonial only and will not formerly change hands until all repairs relative to insurance claims have been paid.
The county said they have big plans for the property, but first they will have to get rid of roughly 70 buildings. District 5 county commissioner Jim Peacock said, “I’m hoping we can take those buildings and grind them up and use the material as road base for some of our dilapidated dirt roads that are continually washing out. We will be utilizing probably 25 to 30 of the buildings for office space for county offices,” said Jim Peacock, Dist. 5 County Commissioner.
One of the buildings on the north campus is currently being used by the Jackson County School Board as Jackson Alternative School. Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore said the earliest that the building would be May of 2021 before that building is available but hopes are high with the county for the possibilities those buildings hold.
“Eventually that property will be turned over to the board of county commissioners,” Peacock said. “Once we do that, I don’t know what we’ll use that building for but it has a lot of potential, it’s a good building.”
Tuesday, was the first time that members of the public were allowed to participate in a tour of the property. The board of commissioners wanted the public to have an idea of the many possibilities the property brings to Jackson County.
“I think everybody today, you know they were impressed with the gym. It’s got a lot of potential for the county there,” said County Commissioner District 2 Clint Pate. “Don’t know exactly what but it could be, maybe a conference center or a big meeting room.”
About the name change, Peacock said, “We chose that name because we’re endeavoring to make this a great place and a great economic asset for Jackson County.”
Officials said, eventually the large fence surrounding the property will come down and the property will take on an entirely different look and goals are that many doors for economic growth will be opened for Jackson County.