The St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse

In 1898, in Dubois County, a very special one-room schoolhouse was built. It was designed for the education of African American Mandarin residents.

This occurred subsequent to the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. There was an attempt to provide a formal education for black children, despite the racial prejudice that existed at that time.

It was members of the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph that led the way, establishing the very first Mandarin school in 1868. Originally located on church property at the corner of old St. Augustine in Loretto, it was subsequently moved to its current location in 2015.

Here is an overview of this unique school, and its robust history, in this turbulent time of America.


Located in Dubois County, this schoolhouse with its single room was designed to educate freed African slaves that resided in Florida. This Mission schoolhouse which educated newly freed African-Americans was led and taught by the French Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph.

Over the course of time, the building has changed hands, eventually making its way to Walter Jones Historical Park.

Although there were other schools that were just as successful, even those founded by African-Americans, this one-room schoolhouse paved the way for the creation of others.

The original schoolhouse was completed in 1898. This building was used to educate African-American students who resided in the Mandarin area.

The original schoolhouse was considered very advanced for its time. It was equipped with desks, a stove, and a chalkboard, with several additions over its lifetime.

How This Schoolhouse Was Used

Although very little is known about how long the school was used, records have shown that at least 25 students were in constant attendance.

In 1943, a school employee by the name of Nathaniel Long was responsible for moving it to St. Augustine Road. It was subsequently sold, after his death, to Dee and Peter Brown.

After that, Councilman Matt Schellenberg, along with the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society relocated it to its current location at Walter Jones Historical Park.

Through private donations, and the help of the Rotary Club of Mandarin, this one-room schoolhouse was preserved.

Notable Aspects Of The Schoolhouse

The French Catholic sisters that began this effort to help freed African-American slaves now serve to educate modern adults and children about the history of the Jacksonville region of Florida.

It is a structure that reminds us of this period of time during which freed African slaves had to face great challenges. The educational trend that it started led to the creation of many other schools including those by the Freedmen’s Bureau and Northern missionaries.

It is a symbolic schoolhouse, one that represents a significant change in the way that African-Americans and their children were represented.

Events and structures like these in American history clearly show how far we have come. It also reminds us of how America used to be. Through the efforts of those that had compassion for individuals suffering, we have iconic structures such as these to show that goodwill is alive and well.

Although St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse For African-American Children is not used as a schoolhouse any longer, it still helps us understand the past.

It is part of the history of those that live in this area of Florida and will always be a reminder of how positive changes can occur.

It is important to remember that many historic structures like this one existed throughout America. It’s important to maintain this historic building, to preserve the history and the significance of this one-room schoolhouse.

It is a significant part of the history of African-Americans in this area of Florida and of America itself.

St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse For African-American Children is a reminder of how far America has come and how we continue to face challenges as a people.

As a sponsor of this historic site, Farnham Dentistry recommends visiting this important place from Mandarin’s history.

St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse was last modified: March 4th, 2022 by Farnham Dentistry