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Historic Central Academy Preservation and Community Development Corporation, Inc.

Launching New Dimensions

Welcome to Historic Central Academy, located in Palatka, Florida, along the banks of the beautiful St. Johns River! We aim to empower youth, individuals and families through community relations and cooperation. We believe that when organizations and individuals work in collaboration through a culturally responsive approach with one common goal in mind; social, cultural and educational awareness will increase. We truly rely on the support of the community to assist us in this process as we embark upon accomplishing our goal, which we believe extends far beyond our neighborhood.

Historic Central Academy general meetings are every third Monday at 5:30 pm at Palatka Housing Authority, 400 North 15th Street Palatka, Florida 32177. For additional  meeting information contact Palatka Housing Authority at 386.329.0132 Aaron Robinson, Director of Social Services ext. 212.


As heirs and stewards of the legacy of Historic Central Academy, we will revive and secure its place in history; not only for our African American community and history but for our city, county and state history as well.


Historic Central Academy Preservation and Community Development Corporation, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to provide a variety of charitable, historical, educational, literary and scientific based opportunities for Putnam County, Florida.

 Our Community Partners and Supporters

Palatka Arts Council at the Larimer

Putnam County Historic Society

Putnam County Library System

Palatka Waterworks and Environmental Education Center

St. Johns River Education Center

Palatka Housing Authority

City of Palatka

Putnam County Board of County Commission

St. Johns River Water Management  District, STEM Education

Ravine Gardens State Park, Resources and Recreation

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Historic Preservation and Restoration

The Central Academy school building was built in 1936 to replace the 1882 building destroyed by fire. The city of Palatka built the original Central Academy building to serve African-Americans. Classes were held for grades 1 through 8. By 1920, both staff and the student body had grown significantly and served grades 1 through 12. In 1925, Central Academy became the first “Negro Standard High School” to be accredited in Florida under the leadership of Professor Clarence C. Walker, Sr. The rich history of Central Academy has been an integral part of the landscape, and remains a source of pride for those that live in the community.

Professor W.M. Berry, an Atlantic University graduate, was Central Academy's first Principal, but it was under the administration of Professor Clarence C. Walker (1922-1928) [pictured to the right] that Central Academy became the first accredited African American High School in the state of Florida. Professor Walker encouraged all classroom teachers to pursue Master's degrees.

Educational Initiatives

State of the art education is the foundation of economic growth in today’s society of digital technology and innovation. One factor major developers and young families look for before investing in a city is the quality of its schools. High quality education attracts economic progression and prosperity. Education that is culturally responsive builds healthy families, citizens, neighborhoods and communities. Historic Central Academy aims for growth, quality and innovation through a S.T.E.E.P approach (Science, Technology, Engineering and Environmental Protection). We are located along the St. Johns River with many springs, nature trails and other environmental resources, therefore we further strive to engage our youth in environmental protection methods of learning. Through extensive research and observation, Historic Central Academy is in the process of establishing a culturally responsive, educational enrichment program (STEEP Ecosystem) for youth right in the heart of the community.

Our initiative is to work hand-in-hand with our local daycares, educational institutions, environmental agencies, greater business community, non-profit organizations, local and state governments and the Florida Department of Education in an effort to assist in increasing "the proficiency of all students within one seamless efficient system, by allowing them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills through learning opportunities and research valued by students, parents and communities” (FLDOE, 2015).
Our Vision:
  •  Educational Enrichment Program  

  • Fatherhood Initiative

Historic Museum

As we embark upon a new journey, our goal is to establish a historic museum dedicated to preserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African-Americans from the 18th century through the 21st century. The museum will offer education programs for all age groups and will be rooted in historic sites, past and present exhibitions, and rich scholarly research. Our goal is to offer a series of hands-on, interactive activities and programs designed to engage educators, students, families and organizations serving youth throughout the community, city of Palatka and county. Through community efforts we will build a phenomenal collection of memorabilia that represents the legacy of Dr. Mary McCleod Bethune (who taught in Palatka) and her quest to start an all-girls school in Palatka (now the phenomenal Bethune-Cookman University located in Daytona Beach), the Mary Lawson Hospital opened in 1918 where black and white doctors practiced together and black and white babies were born together after it integrated in 1922, and musical artists such as C.S Belton and the Belton’s Society Syncopators  just to name a few.

The New Historic Central Academy Group *Building Communities *Strengthening Families *Empowering People
  • Cultural Arts, Classes and 


  • Music and Jazz

  • Multi-Cultural History for Children Activities and Events

Community Investment Center

Central Academy aspires to connect and strengthen families and communities through collaborative efforts. Community investing channels public and private investments in order to provide capital. The goal of Central Academy is to provide a range of investment opportunities that will help to sustain the community through economic development and growth. Needed services are homeownership, re-entry programs, adult education, senior services, health services, financial and educational services. Community investment provide individuals and organizations with tools and skills to improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and the community. The pathway to homeownership, job creation and small business development through a diverse and vibrant approach builds healthy communities. Join our Team by becoming a partner today!
Since 2004, the Historic Central Academy Preservation and Community Development group has raised over
$650,000 through alumni contributions, community donations and special grants. Pastor Sheila McCoy, along with Ralph Dallas, Jr., David and Kip Calhoun, James Williams, Goldie Baker, and a host of other alumni, pillars, patriarchs and matriarchs such as Elmira Robinson, Bruce Keys, Lawrence Hutcherson, Emeritus Historian Erma Boyd and the late Dothea Smith, dedicated tireless hours to preserve Central Academy. Thankfully, their prayers and hard work are not in vain as we move into Phase II of Restoring Central Academy back to becoming a thriving institution of learning, service and cultural awareness for our community, the City of Palatka, Putnam County and other areas . Central Academy is a 501(C)(3) therefore, your contributions are tax deductible. Your support and contributions will work right away to invest in the lives of  many citizens throughout our community. Join our "Roof Before the Rain, Dollar Campaign"!
Community Services
  • Home Ownership

Adult Education

  • Senior and Elderly Services

  • Child Care and Health Services