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For many years, public schooling for Gainesville children was available but no one went. Conditions were deplorable, with classes held in abandoned buildings, no heat, and planks nailed to the walls for desks. It is no wonder that parents, if they could, sent their children to private schools such as East Florida Seminary, the Tebeau School, or Chateau-Briant. According to Charles Hildreth in "History of Gainesville Florida 1854-1979," many private schools opened and closed over the years, sometimes run by ministers trying to supplement their meager incomes. In 1897 there were five local private schools, but all but one were closed soon after the opening of a "proper" public school, the Gainesville Graded & High School, in 1900. The Tebeau School survived another 35 years; it had opened in 1873 and did not close until 1936.
In "Eden of the South," published in 1883, Carl Webber describes the Chateau-Briant, a school for girls, as "… the private enterprise of Mr. & Mrs. J. C. Eastman…A very handsome building has been erected on Gordon Street, 42 x 47 feet, with a piazza at the south, west, and north sides…The rooms on the first floor are a parlor and a classroom with two similar rooms across a wide hallway, the largest for the study-room of the older scholars, the other for the Kindergarten department. On the second and third floors each, are eight dormitories for the young lady students, all of which have means of heating either by fireplace or stove, and a room for the resident lady teachers. The house is built and furmished in the finest manner, and the institution is a creditable one to both the city and the state."
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