Carolyn Beatrice Parker Elementary School – Gainesville FL

Project type: Schools, Education and Health
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Description

Completed in 1939, the Carolyn Beatrice Parker Elementary School (formerly known as J.J. Finley Elementary School) is the oldest operating elementary school in Alachua County. It was named for Jesse Johnson Finley (1812-1904 ), a brigadier general in the Army of the Confederacy, and later a US congressman from Florida. The school was designed by the architectural firm of Sanford W. Goin and Forrest M. Kelley. It is constructed of brick, and mixes Georgian and art deco styles. The school auditorium, part of the original construction, has seating for 300 people, a full theatrical stage, and a projection room.

On August 18, 2020, the Alachua County School Board officially approved changing the name of J.J. Finley Elementary School to Carolyn Beatrice Parker Elementary School. Community leaders, former students, and groups including the NAACP and Black Lives Matter, advocated for the change the name from that of Finley, a politician, judge, and brigadier general in the Army of the Confederacy, who was associated with the region’s racist legacy of white supremacy. Gainesville native Carolyn Beatrice Parker (1917-66) was an African American physicist and educator. She held two advanced degrees: in mathematics, from the University of Michigan, and in physics from MIT. During World War II she worked on the Dayton Project, part of the massive scientific effort that built the atomic bomb. She was an Assistant Professor of physics at Fisk University.

Source notes

PWA plaque to the left of the front entrance to the school.

JJ Finley Elementary School, (https://www.sbac.edu/domain/3515), accessed July 2019.
JJ Finley Biography, (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=F000134), accessed July 2019.
Matheson Historical Museum Oral History Program, (https://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/MH/00/00/17/27/00001/MH00001727.pdf), accessed July 2019.

https://www.gainesville.com/story/news/local/2020/08/05/parker-gets-committee-nod-in-renaming-finley-school/42176577/

https://www.alligator.org/news/j-j-finley-elementary-s-new-namesake-carolyn-beatrice-parker/article_0d66409c-e1b4-11ea-943c-9f0c117e39eb.html

Project originally submitted by Susan Hegeman on July 2, 2019.
Additional contributions by Kathleen Walston Pagan.

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Location Info


1912 NW 5th Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32603

Coordinates: 29.65654, -82.34829

2 comments on “Carolyn Beatrice Parker Elementary School – Gainesville FL

  1. Catherine

    This school was renamed in August 2020 to Carolyn Beatrice Parker Elementary.

    https://www.wcjb.com/2020/08/19/jj-finley-elementary-is-officially-renamed-carolyn-beatrice-parker-elementary/

  2. Susan Hegeman

    The PWA plaque with the name “JJ Finley Elementary School” was removed as part of the 2020 renaming of the school.

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