Founded as a one-room wooden schoolhouse near the end of the Civil War, Sunshine Elementary evolved into a demonstration school for Southwest Missouri State Teacher’s College, a four-room brick building in the 1930s, and a 10-room school in the 1950s. A library with technology updates was added in the early 1990s.
In 2020, we helped with renovations that doubled the building’s size to 58,800 square feet. It now seats 350 students, with 15 K-5 classrooms, five special education/title classrooms, a host of collaboration and learning spaces, and a new storm shelter gymnasium. The new design retained many features, such as existing classroom wings that are now bookended by the art room and cafeteria to create a new courtyard.
The restoration modernized the facility, yet showed respect for the school’s history: refinishing vintage hardwood floors, choosing new windows that mimic the old, salvaging and restoring the main entry’s hardware for reuse, and replacing a dilapidated cupola with a much sturdier, finely detailed replica.