Washington County's Historic Church and School Buildings
By Florida Division of Historic Resources Staff
Vernon's Moss Hill United Methodist Church was built in 1857.
Florida has a rich and diverse history. African American landmarks and legacies exist in various locations throughout the state. The following historical sites can be found in Washington County. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings of Washington County Schools in Florida are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
Moss Hill United Methodist Church
Corner of Vernon and Greenhead Roads (Private)
Built in 1857 by church members and their slaves, this simple, weathered, wood-frame church is the oldest unaltered building in Washington County. Many of the planks still bear the hand prints and fingerprints of the workers, and the barefoot imprints of children may be seen on ceiling planks. Three miles southeast of Vernon, this building is one of the nation’s best examples of frontier church architecture.
Vernon Elementary School
3665 Roche Avenue
During desegregation, Washington County’s white students from Caryville and Wausau, and black students from Shady Grove were sent to the current Vernon Elementary School site. Lacking funds to build a new school, the county added on to an existing one. Parts of the three closed schools were moved and attached to Vernon Elementary. (850) 535-2486.
Chipley’s Roulhac Middle School
651 Pecan Street
Chipley’s Roulhac Middle School bears the name of T.J. Roulhac, Orange Hill area native, who in 1913 became supervisor of Washington County’s schools in Florida for black children. Roulhac was identified throughout his adult career as a leader, along with members of his family, in efforts to improve the quality of education for black children. He became principal in 1938 of Chipley’s first high school for black children. It also provided classes for elementary and junior high school pupils, and was unofficially known as the “Roulhac School” or “Roulhac High School.” When the schools integrated in 1968-69, the high school students at Roulhac School transferred to Chipley High School. The community’s elementary pupils of both races were enrolled in Kate M. Smith School, and those in grades six, seven and eight attended classes at “Roulhac School,” which was soon officially named Roulhac Middle School, in memory of the county’s distinguished black educator. They condemned the school years back and built a new middle school (in 2000) at another location, but they did renovate some of the old school and turned it into a center. It is now called the T.J. Roulhac Enrichment and Activity Center.
Adapted from Florida Black Heritage Trail, published by the Florida Department of State, in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, copyright 2007. For more information on African American sites, please visit flheritage.com.
Additional information can also be found at: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/milesmedia/floridablackheritage/