On Saturday, April 30, more than a century after the first “Jupiter Colored School” was opened in the Limestone Creek Community, residents, officials, volunteers and others gathered inside Palm Beach County’s Limestone Creek Park to celebrate the installation of a marker that commemorates the community’s vast history.
“For too long, way too many people didn’t have access to good education, and this was especially true in the south,” said U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, who was present at the event, along with Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Hal Valeche, former L.M. Davis Elementary School teacher Mrs. Dorothy Bendross Walker, and other iconic figures from around the community.
The ceremony centered on the strides in education in the Limestone Creek Community, the oldest African American community in the North Palm Beach area, in the past century. Denied access to Jupiter’s public schools by the laws of segregation, the community opened a school of their own in 1905. The first “Jupiter Colored School” was located in the local African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“This was a community that had nothing, but they made sure their children got a decent school, good teachers,” remarked Jamie Stuve, the CEO & President of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, an organization that helps preserve “history shaped by nature” of the Loxahatchee River region.
When the 1928 hurricane destroyed the church, community member L.M. Davis donated an acre of his homestead for the construction of a new school. The community pooled their limited resources and even built a school bus for their children. Matching funds from the Rosenwald Fund, created by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co, enabled the community to construct a two-room school with a kitchen, and to hire two teachers for grades 1 through 8.
Mrs. Walker, a life-long member of the community who attended the Elementary School and eventually taught there, told a story of the many struggles the students and teachers faced at the school during the mid-20th century. “It was a different time, a different place when we were here, we had no electricity, no running water, no heat, no air conditioning… but we survived,” she said.
The graduating class of 1941 raised funds to construct a sidewalk over the drainage ditch at the entrance to the school and, along with their principal, autographed the remaining concrete. In 1956, the school was renamed the L.M. Davis Elementary School in honor of the man who donated the land and drove the school bus. High school students were transported 20 miles south to attend Industrial High in Riviera Beach until Jupiter public schools began to be desegregated in 1967.
“The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is steadfast in preserving our history, but more than just preserving it, we need to interpret it and teach it,” said Eric Call, the Director of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.
Limestone Creek Park is operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. The department operates more than 80 regional, district, community, beach, and neighborhood parks, spanning several thousand acres. Visit pbcParks.com to learn about opportunities for healthy, happy living.