Residents of Sarcoxie Township are fortunate to have a unique and beautiful voting site at Sunnyside School on Republic Road. District 51 was established in 1866, four years after the founding of the township. The first school building was a log structure built by John Large, and was destroyed by a fire in 1875. The current school building replaced the log original in 1879.
This graceful new building was one of the earliest documented architect-designed school buildings in Kansas. The design came from a book of patterns compiled by John Haskell and Louis M. H. Wood. Haskell is renowned for designing the Kansas statehouse, as well as many courthouses, churches and schools.
Sunnyside served as the neighborhood school until 1955 or 1956, educating children in grades 1 through 8. Children entered through the two doors on the east side, boys on the left and girls on the right (the outhouses had the same pattern—boys on the left and girls on the right). Each front door opened onto a cloakroom, where lunches and coats were stored. In the classroom, a stove on the west end warmed the students.
With school consolidation in the 1950s, Sunnyside closed to students. Care and maintenance of the building were taken over by the Sunny Valley Homemakers’ Demonstration Unit, later known as the EHUC. In 1956, the school became the voting site for the township. When the McLouth school district planned to tear down the building in 1977, the EHUC negotiated a 99 year lease for $1.
Sunnyside School is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school faces another crossroads as the EHUC can no longer afford to do the maintenance required by an old building. May it serve the township voters for many more decades to come.