The building was for black students only during the Jim Crow Era and had no running water.
by: Randy Jaye
The Espanola Schoolhouse, located at 98 Knox Jones Ave., Bunnell, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 22. It is Flagler County’s first landmark directly associated with black history to receive national recognition for its historical significance in the areas of Education and Black Ethnic Heritage.
The Espanola Schoolhouse is the last standing one-room schoolhouse in Flagler County. It went into operation in 1950 during the Jim Crow Era as a segregated black-only Flagler County public school. It operated from 1950 to 1957 as an elementary school, first through eighth grades, and accommodated around 30 students per school year from Espanola and the nearby communities of Neoga and Bimini.
During its operation as a segregated black-only Flagler County public elementary school, it had electricity but no running water or bathroom inside the building. Located in the backyard of the building, a hand pump provided water, and an outhouse provided toilet facilities for the students, teacher and teacher aides.
Some children with no access to automated transportation walked more than six miles per day to attend this school.
From 1958 to 1970, the Espanola Schoolhouse operated as an independent kindergarten for the Espanola area. From 1971 to 2001, the building was used as a storage facility and gradually fell into disrepair. Fortunately, a community renovation project began in 2001, led by Rev. Frank Giddens and Queenie Jackson. Considerable exterior and interior repairs were accomplished including the installation of air conditioning and the addition of a bathroom inside the building, which enabled it to be open to the public as a clubhouse.
The Espanola Schoolhouse is currently owned by the Trustees of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and now serves the Espanola community as the St. Paul Youth Center, which is used for academic tutoring and a social center and summer camp.
Information provided by Rev. Frank Giddens, of the St. Paul Baptist Church in Espanola, proved to be crucial to the documentation that was ultimately submitted to the National Park Service. Not only is Rev. Giddens still active with the property he was instrumental in its construction in 1949-1950.
The Espanola Schoolhouse is the 12th property in Flagler County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The other 11 are as follows:
- Bulow Plantation Ruins (1970)
- Bunnell [Coquina] City Hall (2019)
- Bunnell Water Tower (2019)
- Cherokee Grove (1997)
- Dixie Highway-Hastings, Espanola and Bunnell Road (2005)
- Holden House (2018)
- Mala Compra Plantation Archeological Site (2004)
- Marine Studios (1986)
- Old Bunnell State Bank Building (1992)
- Vocational Agriculture Building (2007)
- Washington Oaks Historic District (2009)
The property and its history was researched and nominated by historian Randy Jaye of Flagler Beach. Jaye previously researched and nominated the Holden House, Bunnell [Coquina] City Hall and Bunnell Water Tower, which were all added onto the National Register of Historic Places. Jaye is the author of "Flagler County, Florida: A Centennial History" and "Perseverance: Episodes of Black History from the Rural South."