What began as LaGrange College in 1830 had by 1872 become the Florence State Normal School, the first state-supported teachers college south of the Ohio River. Because the school's primary focus was to train educators, a training school was added on campus to train teachers in grades one through twelve as early as 1886. Classes were first held in Wesleyan Hall and the Wesleyan Annex, which had capacity for 60 students.
Student teachers from the State Normal School also taught in Florence City and Lauderdale County schools. The impact of the State Normal School on the local area was great and there often was a waiting list for students to attend the training school on campus.
In response to this demand and growth, in 1922, the Kilby School building was constructed to house elementary grades while high school classes continued to meet in Wesleyan. An auditorium was added to Kilby School in 1929.
Kilby School looks similar to many other school buildings constructed at the time. The traditional design of Rosenwald Schools had influenced schoolhouse architecture by the 1920s.
Typical of the era in which it was built, the Kilby School incorporates more than one architectural style. At first glance, it borrows from the Craftsman style with its bracketed eaves and exposed rafters, but it also has elements of the Colonial Revival style, seen in the keystone arches at each entrance. This blending of styles was common in the early part of the twentieth century.
In 1964, university growth and campus expansion necessitated a move for Kilby School. A mid-century Modern building was constructed for the school just west of Pine Street. The move placed the school on the outskirts of campus, allowing both the university and Kilby continued growth. Today, Kilby is the only university-owned and operated elementary laboratory school in Alabama.