PALATKA – More than 70 graduates of Palatka High School classes in bygone years and their guests gathered May 10 to celebrate the graduates of Mellon High School. Setting was Christ Independent Methodist Church with members of the classes of 1943 to 1956 welcomed by master of ceremonies Edwin Reid.
Mellon was the name of the building where students attended classes in a structure built in 1921 on property owned by James Ross Mellon, those attending were told, but technically it was Putnam High School from which students graduated. The Mellon building closed at the end of 1954, and the building was torn down in the 1960s to make room for a parking lot for the Putnam County Courthouse.
Highlight of the May 10 gathering was a brief talk by Carey E. Ferrell, who compiled a history of the Mellon school and distributed copies to those in attendance.
Mellon had much more to do with the school other than donating the property, Ferrell told the gathering. On several occasions a bond issue was proposed to voters to finance the building of a new school, but it was defeated. In 1917 students demonstrated after a failure, and that, Ferrell noted, got the interest of Mellon, who decided he was going to do something about the need. A special taxing district was established, after the southeast and western part of the county had defeated previous proposed bond issues, and Mellon donated property by the courthouse. Voters approved the taxing district in 191.
Unfortunately there is nothing today to mark the location of the former Mellon school, but there is a movement afoot now to involve historical groups in the county to help establish a marker to be placed on the site where the building once stood.