Seville High School

Seville School 2009 Jack Carpenter photo

Please note:  This page was originally catalogued on the Other Areas page, but is now being moved to the DeLand Area page.  Jack.  October29, 2011.

From Fifth Avenue mansions to smalll rural schools architect Wm. J. Carpenter designed to his clients needs.  During the Florida Boom of the 1920s Mr.  Carpenter AIA moved to DeLand in 1923 to work with the leaders of the community in designing the Putnam Hotel, a major addition to DeLand’s infrastructure.  At the same time some of these men were serving on the Volusia County School Board, working diligently to keep up with the rising demand for school buildings being made by the burgeoning population.  One of their early pressing needs was for expansion of a small school in the rural community of Seville, and they commissioned Mr. Carpenter to prepare the design for it.  The result was this frame building, built as an addition to the existing 1914 school building.

Although finally appearing in the vernacular frame style in the photo seen above  it was originally designed in the Mediterranean Mission

Original WJC design

style, one of the first such buildings appearing in Volusia County.  The design was based on modern design principles from the design board of the architect.  In 1922 he had requested from the AIA the latest information on school design, anticipating a explosion in school construction.  Because he was prepared for this surge in school construction he became the Volusia County School Board’s “architect of choice” and  designed  some 9-10 other schools in the County  during the next few years.

 The school is located directly on Highway 17 in Seville, just 34 miles south of Palatka, and 23 miles north of DeLand.  Although   on the recently dedicated River of Lakes Heritage Corridor,  it is not open to the public; but what can be seen from the road is an interesting representation of a small rural school of the 1920s in which modern design features were integrated.

The main building as designed by Mr. Carpenter in 1923 called for four classrooms, the auditorium, a principal’s office and a small library. (There was no designated teacher’s lounge).  A small addition was made in 1940 to house the lunchroom.  It is interesting to note that the heating plant was in a small “basement” under the rear of the building.  This is a carryover feature from the North seen in many of Mr. Carpenter’s designs; an unusual feature for Florida, but nevertheless functional.

Original blue prints for this building signed by Mr. Carpenter have been found and are being preserved by the Volusia County School Board Archives.  The informal relationship of architect, School Board & contractor is noted in a change on one of the drawings in the architect’s classic script and signed by the concerned parties.  This agreement has also been found in the School Board Meeting Minutes, but apparently it was not felt necessary to prepare a formal change order.

The original design showed elements of the Mediterranean Revival Style (Mission) with a stucco finish, which was Mr. Carpenter’s preferred style at the time.  However, given a construction option of tile, brick, frame and stucco or frame with novelty siding, the Board chose the frame construction with novelty siding for budgetary reasons.  I. C. Hughes was awarded the contract for $12, 336.38.  The School Board Minutes show that the bid difference between the novelty siding and stucco options was only $453.62.

 Due to exterior modifications required after the wooden siding was chosen the Mission look was no longer discernible. Fortunately, the choice of native heart pine and cypress woods, along with good maintenance, has prevented deterioration of the structure, and appraisals report that it is in very good condition.


During the Great Depression of the 1930s the Federal WPA sponsored an art program for public buildings and the Seville

Garnsey Painting in Seville School

School was chosen as one of the sites to display some of the paintings as they were created. On the walls just inside the main entryway are six (6) such documented paintings (framed seascapes) signed by Clark Garnsey.  Mr. Garnsey was a young unrecognized art student in the early 1930s when he painted these scenes of historic ships from Florida history. He later became a nationally recognized artist and retired as Professor Emeritus of the Art Department at the University of Texas, El Paso a few years ago.  He tells us there were 30-40 other paintings produced by the young group of artists and some others still exist in the area.


The Seville School was closed in 2009 and the building was sold to the Seville Village Improvement Association.  The citizens of Seville are actively seeking funding to renovate the interior of the building and thereafter maintain it so that it can serve as a community center and museum. <>

This structure has been listed on the Volusia County Historic Register and the Endangered Historic Properties in Volusia County (a list endorsed by the Volusia County Historic Preservation Board, Inc.). As a property of historic significance it is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  Work on this involved procedure has been started, but is presently on hold because of fiscal problems and no further action is anticipated in the foreseeable future.  One of Florida state researchers has stated ,“I am amazed that while looking for an example of a frame vernacular school listed for its architectural significance, I have found none.”

The Seville and Enterprise School works do not appear to have any state of the art features, only good, sound engineering and architectural features.  The Pierson School brings into play the Mediterranean Revival style and a basic concept that was easily adapted and enlarged for the other schools throughout the county.


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