In 1925, Ernest Kouwen-Hoven erected the first building on what is now the Florida Preparatory Academy campus. It was a magnificent Spanish Mediterranean-style mansion, complete with authentic Art Deco interior.
He used the mansion as his home for only one year, before selling it in 1926 to A.S. Widrig, who added extra rooms to it and re-named the property "The Lincoln Hotel." In 1957, The Lincoln Hotel was sold to August J. Rimer, the original owner of the Green Bay Packers. He re-named the hotel "The Belcelona."
In 1961, Mr. Rimer sold The Belcelona Hotel to Mr. Jonathan Dwight, an educator and aviation enthusiast from New Jersey. Several months later, with his wife Emmy Dwight, he founded Florida Air Academy, a military-style college preparatory school for young men.
In the fall of 2005, the Academy began accepting female students in both boarding and day capacities. The girls made an excellent contribution to the school and raised the bar academically. There have been five female valedictorians since the school became co-ed.
In 2011 the Academy celebrated its 50th Anniversary year, and in June of 2015 the Academy became Florida Preparatory Academy (Florida Prep) to more accurately reflect its college preparatory identity. The AFJROTC program became optional instead of required, the flight program continues-students may still study to obtain their private pilot's license at aged 16!
The Academy is now undergoing another change in identity. In 2017 the school was purchased by a California-based investment company, Newopen USA. As a result major investment in campus technology, the expansion of the campus footprint and dormitory refurbishment is currently underway.
A number of new support programs, including SAT and ACT prep, are being introduced, and a new academic STEAM focused curriculum, designed to utilize our new campus facilities, is in the pipeline. An active faculty recruitment drive is yielding top-class talent from within the USA and beyond. Academics, leadership, character, and preparing students for college and a global business environment continues to be our primary focus.
Florida Prep is now located in one of the fastest growing technological communities in the United States, the Space Coast Corridor - a far cry from the sleepy small town the Dwights came upon in 1961. They would no doubt be proud to note how their school has evolved to meet the growing needs of the area, and also to meet the new student body, one firmly established in the 21st Century with a desire to embrace technology and to touch the global marketplace in which they live.
We are experiencing an exciting transition; our history is still in the making!