When the ten-year-old wooden Osceola High School burned to the ground on July 7, 1908; the headlines read “Pride of Osceola Is Laid In Ashes”. A committee of citizens was immediately appointed by the School Board to secure plans for the erection of a new school building. Cooper Contracting Company of Fitzgerald, Georgia was awarded the contract for $17,500 to construct the three-story structure using sand lime brick.
Classrooms had been increased from twelve to fourteen, two broad stairways leading to the third floor auditorium which was equipped with 456 opera chairs; there was also a library and principal’s office. Fire protection consisted of a hose on each floor connected with pipes that lead to a pressure tank sufficiently large enough to force water over the entire building.
By 1917 the combination Osceola High School and Kissimmee Graded School had twenty-five teachers, grades 1-12, 610 students with 103 being high school pupils. There were departments of Music, Expression, Domestic Science and Household Management for high school students; Domestic Science, Domestic Art and Industrial Work for grammar grades.
Both the prior school and the new one sat on the land where Kissimmee City Hall is on Church Street.
Not as modern as this 1908 Osceola High School, the schoolhouse at Pioneer Village gives a glimpse of what an 1890s one-room schoolhouse looked like.
Sources: “The Kissimmee Valley Gazette” July 10, 1908, September 18, 1908, September 17, 1909; “Utolakean” Osceola High School publication, March 1917; Sanborn Fire Maps
Photo source: Osceola County Historical Society postcard collection