|Built in 1926, Registered September 1997|
820 NE 3 St
St. Anthony school is a complex of five buildings located immediately east and slightly north of downtown Fort Lauderdale. From the school grounds, many of the city's downtown high rise office buildings are prominently visible. Only three of the five buildings have been added to the National Register: St. Anthony School, built in 1926; the convent, built in 1938; and the gymnasium, built in 1940. The entire complex is enclosed by a masonry boundary wall with a wrought metal cap rail and decorative gates at several points. St. Anthony was the first Roman Catholic parish. The school was the first Catholic school in Broward County until 1952, and it is has been in continual operation since 1926. The school was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style by one of Fort Lauderdale's first architects, Francis Luis Abreu.
St. Anthony Parish is the oldest in the county. This Mediterranean Revival style school was the first Catholic school built in Broward County and the first Catholic school between Gesu in Miami and Saint Ann in West Palm Beach. There were few Catholics in Broward County in the early days. “Fort Lauderdale’s Catholic community had long been a minority in the predominantly Baptist town of Fort Lauderdale, where robed and hooded Ku Klux Klansmen staged torch-light rallies in support of ‘White Supremacy’ and against the ‘foreign Papist church’.”
This fine example of Mediterranean Revival style architecture was designed by renowned architect Frances Abreu. Abreu did much to popularize the Mediterranean Revival style during the 1920s. The school was built for $60,000 and placed in the “...heart of Victoria Park, a modest and middle-class new development of homes being built for the boom town’s more solid, working class folk.” “In April of 1926, a story in the Sun-Sentinel made it very clear to all Fort Lauderdale that Broward’s first Catholic school was being built for the future. The school was built with a capacity to take care of more than 200 pupils immediately and 200 more later; provision is being made for future wings to take care of additional increases in enrollment.” The school was dedicated by Bishop Barry from St. Augustine. The official opening was announced for September, 1926.
The school served grades one through eight at first. “The four classrooms on the first floor each accommodated two grades in the early years.” The second floor of the building was originally used as a convent for the teaching nuns. “In 1932 St. Anthony’s became the first Catholic high school in Broward County.... That school split off into what is now St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Anthony’s reverted to kindergarten through eighth grade.” Today, classes are taught by lay teachers. The school has been an educational facility for more than 75 years and continues to be in operation.