The Hill School
Courtesy School Board of
Palm Beach County
Guy Metcalf pursued politics after he sold The Tropical Sun newspaper. Sarah Moses Dean, a student at the time, later explained:
Guy Metcalf was a progressive man. He believed in education, and it was he who suggested the present Central Grammar School—and talked until he got money enough to raise it. The people … said it’s out in the woods, the children will get run over. Well, they’d have to cross the railroad and that wouldn’t do.
Lula Currie agreed:
About the time that I left teaching, they were building the big Central School. The people said … alligators would come up out of the swamp and devour them, and the town would never, never grow up to the schoolhouse.
Despite these feelings, Metcalf was elected trustee of Dade County School District No. 1 in 1904, and the modern Central School opened in 1909 at a cost of $50,000. Ellen Potter (sister of Ben, George, and Dr. Richard Potter) donated some land and sold some of the 18-acre site on the hill at Hibiscus Street and Georgia Avenue overlooking Clear Lake, which one student described as full of fruit trees. The timing was perfect for the former schoolhouse at Clematis to take on its second life as the first Palm Beach County Courthouse in 1909.
As the Central School was opening in West Palm Beach in 1909, the citizens of Boca Raton were building a one-room wood frame school of their own, as part of an agreement with the county school board to send them a teacher. The first schoolhouse stood west of the FEC railroad tracks near today’s Boca Raton police station.