In 1893, the Jesuit Fathers at Sacred Heart Church established a school on Morgan Street. St. Peter Claver Catholic School, named for the Spanish Jesuit missionary priest, was founded for the children of the African American community. On February 2, 1894, Mary Germaine and Marie Aurelle, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, began classes with 16 students.
On the night of February 12, 1894, the school was destroyed by arson. A note tacked upon an oak tree warned:
"This inscription is posted in the place to say that the late fire on these grounds was not caused by any ill feeling to the Catholic Church, but because the citizens do not propose to submit to a negro school in the midst of the white and retired resident portion of the city; and warn that in case another institution of the same character is operated in this vicinity it too will certainly cause destruction of the convent and your other Churches. Remember, this is positive."
The property, on the corner of Scott and Governor Streets, was purchased by Rev. William Tyrell, S.J. and Bishop John Moore. A wooden building was erected in 1896 and replaced by the present two-story red brick building in 1929. An annex was erected in 1952. As of 2015, the school is Florida's oldest existing African American school.