Citrus Industry and Red Hill Groves
Cattle ranches and turpentine stills filled the Conway landscape in the late nineteenth century, but it was the citrus industry that would predominate in most of the twentieth century. For miles, neat rows of orange, grapefruit, and tangerine trees lined the agricultural area. That all changed in the 1980's as a result of successive devastating freezes in the growing seasons of 1983/84 and 1984/85, followed by the discovery of the deadly disease, citrus canker. The final hard freeze in 1989 wiped out most of the remaining citrus in Conway with the exception of the Red Hill Groves Packinghouse which was established in 1962 by the Conoley Family on the original site of Conway Elementary School. Following devastating Hurricane Charley in 2004, the State tried to prevent citrus canker by the mandatory removal of all citrus trees in the area. That was the end of commercial citrus in Conway.
Conway School began in 1875 as Prospect School and was affiliated with the Prospect Methodist-Episcopal Church that late became the Conway Methodist Church. The name Conway first appeared in 1884 when the school was located on Conway Road bear Trentonian Court. The school was a two-room building that accommodated grades
one through five in one room and six through eight in the other. L.C. Ray was its first principal. The budget for school expenses at this time was about $50,000; principal salaries averaged $225 a month and teachers in one room country schools were paid $30 a month. The original school grew to include five rooms and a lunchroom. In 1954, Conway Elementary School was built and the middle grades eventually became Conway Middle School, which was constructed in 1969.