Historic Reddick High School set for demolition

The old Reddick High School is shown on Northwest Gainesville Road in Reddick, Fla. on Monday, July 26, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted July 28, 2021 | By Joel Bronson, joel@ocalagazette.com

The old Reddick High School is shown on Northwest Gainesville Road in Reddick, on July 26, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

The iconic yet dilapidated Reddick High School will face the wrecking ball after nearly 100 years of sentry duty near the town center on Northwest Gainesville Road.

On Tuesday, the Marion County School Board voted to accept the cost to demolish the old school building at just under $500,000. No immediate date was set for demolition, but Allstate Construction, which was awarded the contract, hopes to finish the job by early November, according to a letter to the school board.

While the structure has remained largely empty since the late 1960s, it’s become part of the town’s identity, even appearing as a pencil drawing on the town’s website.

“It’s very sad that the building has to be taken down. But at this point, it is an unsafe structure. We let it go too far. At this point, from what we heard from the engineer’s standpoint, it can’t be saved,” said Steven Rogers, Reddick city council president.

The school is shown in 1927. [Submitted]

Rogers hoped the newer gymnasium addition could be saved.

“They put a new roof on it, and they redid the floor. They spent a lot of money on it, and our hope was that could be saved, somehow, but I don’t know if that is going to happen,” Rogers said. “We hate to see it go, but we’re resolved to the fact that it’s unsafe.”

The school board did not discuss saving any portion of the building.

During a July 22 school board workshop, Robert Knight, director of facilities for Marion County Public Schools, suggested moving forward with demolition as soon as possible to avoid increased costs.

[Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

At that same meeting, Nancy Thrower, Marion County School Board chairwoman, said it was time for the facility to go.

“It’s an eyesore for the people of Reddick,” Thrower said.

She hoped some of the brick from the original structure could be saved and used for a monument to the school or even sold to the public.

“Within reason, we would like to save some of that stuff,” Thrower said.

For Rogers, the decision hits home.

“I went to school there. I grew up right here in Reddick. It’s sad for me to see something like that get torn away,” he said.

Reddick High School was established in 1927 and graduated its last class in 1964. The school first opened in 1923, and through the years, several additions to the original building followed. The last was in 1936 when the gymnasium was built. In 1957 the school was renamed North Marion High School. The current North Marion High School building in Sparr was built in 1963, and the Reddick site closed the next year. The new North Marion consolidated with Anthony and Fort McCoy high schools.

While the structure may be ready to come down, the history remains.

[Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Nancy Leitner, who attended Reddick High School, shared her memories and affinity for the school.

“Reddick High School was the social center for Northwest Marion County,” Leitner said. “Strong bonds formed between the students of Reddick High School.”

The school’s mascot was the Terriers.

“If you went to Reddick High School, you’re family,” Leitner said.

The next school reunion for the Reddick Terriers is set for April 22.

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