South Side School opened in 1922 as part of an expansion of school facilities intended to serve the growing population of Fort Lauderdale that was driven by the early stirrings of the 1920’s Florida Real Estate Boom. The two-story, 11,000 square foot School was built at a cost of $16,360, excluding land costs.
The architect of the South Side School was John Peterman. Peterman subsequently designed the West Side School at 1300 SW 4th Street and the Old Dillard School at 1001 NW 4th Street. All three of these Schools have local historic designation status; Old Dillard School has National Register Status, and South Side School recently received a unanimous recommendation for National Register status from the Florida National Register Review Board. Peterson also designed the second County Courthouse which was built in 1927.
The School was expanded twice (in 1949 and again in 1954) to accommodate the growing population of Fort Lauderdale. It closed as an elementary school in 1967 and was immediately put to use as a school for special needs and physically challenged children. The School was closed permanently in the 1990’s. In 1996 the City designated South Side School as a historic landmark. In 2001, the School and the adjacent Hardy Park were under consideration by the Federal government as the site for a new U.S. Courthouse, but the City of Fort Lauderdale ultimately succeeded in purchasing the property.
The renovation of the South Side School has been planned by many dedicated citizens, community leaders, government officials and staff to provide cultural art experiences for young and old together. The South Side School building is already well known by the community and remembered by many for the wonderful cultural activities it hosted over the decades. When completed, the 11,000 sq. ft. renovated building will anchor the south end of the City and house a variety of cultural arts programs and events and be a cultural destination for all generations of the community.