In 1896 Paul C. Ransom first brought students from an Eastern preparatory school to this site, which he named Pine Knot Camp, for a winter term of study and outdoor life. In 1903 it became the Adirondack-Florida School with the fall and spring terms in the Adirondacks and the winter term in Coconut Grove. Closed in 1942 because of the war, it was reopened in 1947. In 1949, the trustees located the school here permanently and named it Ransom for the founder.
The "Pagoda," the first major building, was completed in 1902. Designed by Green and Wicks, architects of Buffalo, N.Y., the large two-story building of durable Dade County pine remains unchanged except for minor interior alterations. It continues as an integral part of the campus and includes a museum in which the story of the school is on exhibit. The historical importance of the "Pagoda" won for it a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.