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Vernon City Hall Approved for Florida Historical Marker

Lynda Waller

On October 29, 2020, the Florida State Historical Marker Council approved the Vernon City Hall, formerly Vernon High School aka Vernon Old School, as a Florida historical site.  Ordered by the marker council, the historical marker delivery should be in approximately four months.  It will be erected in front of the Vernon City Hall building with a dedication ceremony following. The Vernon Historical Society and the City of Vernon co-sponsored the application for the historic marker.  

In 1931, the Washington County School Board hired architects Hirsch and Jones of Montgomery, Alabama to plan a new Vernon school.  M. R. Coggin Construction of Chipley, Florida, constructed the school to serve students desiring more than just eight years of schooling.  Vernon Old School would educate students from Vernon, and all communities in western Washington County.  In conjunction with the construction of the Chipley High School, it was the first step to consolidate education in the County in two centers, eliminating the many schools scattered about the county.

The former school serves as the current station for city hall.

The original building consisted of eight classrooms, one auditorium and stage.  In 1947, four junior high school classrooms were added to the original wing with nine elementary classrooms adjoining the original wing and auditorium. In 1950, a detached gymnasium, stage and two locker rooms were added to the main school. Elementary students were transferred in 1968 to the new Elementary school constructed on the east side of Vernon.  Vernon Old School now consisted of only high school students.

In 2002, a needs assessment determined the Vernon Old School facility was not adequate as conditions of the school affected the school's curriculum and the students' readiness to enter the workforce.  With the new high school built on Moss Hill Road, Vernon Old School's last class graduated in May 2006.

 Plans for the State Road 79 widening project called for the demolition of the Vernon City Hall. The best option was to utilize the Vernon Old School as a new city government complex.  The Washington County School Board and the Vernon City Council agreed the City would take ownership of the entire old school campus.  Subsequent renovation of the main structure allowed use as a city hall and community center.  In addition, numerous organizations occupy offices in the structure including the Vernon Historical Society, Washington County Council on Aging, WIC, Literacy Program, and the Sheriff's Department Annex.

This is the second of approved educationally oriented historical markers within Vernon.  A historical marker for Shady Grove Elementary School approved earlier this year will be in place and dedicated in February in observance of Black History Month.