Because You Asked . . . .    

First Brick Sunbury School on Harrison Street after Addition

Sunbury School Served More than Village

Boys and girls in Sunbury attended a log school on the southwest corner of Sunbury square. The facility was also shared with a church. When the structure was no longer needed it was divided into 2 parts which became the nucleus of individual homes - one was torn down for the parking lot at southwest corner of Vernon and Harrison.  The second is part of the Stith house at 77 Harrison Street.

Col. Frambis raised money to build a private school on the village square. Bricks for the school were baked on the farm just west of Sunbury where CVS and Community Library are in 2003. The two story building (costing $5000) was completed in 1868 with a third floor added by the Masonic Lodge. Classes began but money to pay teachers and expenses was not available and the school closed in three years. The students returned to public schools.

In 1878, a 2 story public school was built on Harrison Street for $5,000. Sunbury School is located at the southwest corner of 3 acres facing Harrison Street. The high school students used the first floor of the Town Hall while the Harrison Street building housed the elementary school children. Mr. G. K. Sharp was the first superintendent of Sunbury High School. To receive a high school diploma, you were required to earn at least sixteen credits in not less than four years. The required subjects for the first year of high school were algebra, English, and general science. Latin, botany and geography were elective subjects. Graduations were held in the Baptist Church, K of P Hall, and the Town Hall.

In 1911 when the village wished to extend Vernon Street, it was decided not to extend it through the school grounds to Rainbow Avenue as children could be hurt by the traffic.

The village was growing and through centralization more students were coming into the school from part of Berkshire, Kingston, Porter and Trenton townships so soon the building became too small. In 1913 two  additions were added.  A 13' x 24' room was added to the front of the first building and a 13' x 13' building was added to the back. These gave an aerial view like a cross. At this time the lower grades were on the first floor and the Sunbury Junior and Senior High Schools were on the upper floor. W. B. Winters was awarded the bid for repairing the school and constructing the addition for a bid of $10, 995.  Columbus Heating and Ventilating Company received the contract for the automatic heating system for $2440.

According to the 1922 yearbook, the school sat among 52 shade trees, had a very good cement walk leading to Harrison Street with a beautiful pivet hedge lining the walk. Five rooms on the first floor housed the first six grades, library and office. Primary grades (1st and 2nd) had a teacher, Intermediate had one teacher for 3rd and 4th grades and one for 5th and 6th The four rooms on the second floor held the Grammar School (7th and 8th grades) and High School. Three rooms in the basement were being used for Domestic Science, Manual Training and Science.

Extra curricular events began to be added to the school day. In 1915, the senior class put out the first Sunbury High School Annual. Baseball was the first sport introduced in 1910. Basketball followed in 1915 and finally football in 1926. There was a girls’ basketball team in 1922. Orchestra, glee club, debate teams rounded out the activities for the high school students in 1922. The schools which later became Big Walnut Local Schools were great competitors throughout the time of centralized schools.

On November 4, 1923, the Sunbury District voted favorably on a $75,000 bond issue to add an addition to the school. In 1924-25 the new school opened just east of the first two buildings and connected with an enclosed walkway know as the "dogtrot." The new building included a combination gymnasium (dedicated January 16th by beating Center Village 26-4 in a basketball game) and auditorium capable of seating 600 with a stage, locker rooms with showers, a large study hall with library connected, and well equipped laboratories for Physics, Chemistry, Manual Training and Domestic Science.

I received the first years of my education in these buildings. There are wonderful memories of wooded desks with ink wells and fold-up seats. The wooden floors were heavily waxed and had a bright shine. The rooms had very high ceilings and lots of windows for light and cooling in summer. Blackboards usually ran along two walls so teachers could have different groups working on different projects at the same time. In the back of each room there was usually a coat room with a shelf for lunches, boots went under the coat. It was so quiet. One rarely heard the other classes.

It was a big deal to be sent upstairs with a message for the office.. I remember the first time I went through the dogtrot to the high school. Wow! In that building there were metal strips on the front of the steps to keep one from falling and again the office was upstairs. I though the gym as big and beautiful. I remember watching the big boys on the trampoline or playing basketball and knew I would never be so big.

When the school again suffered growing pains a 2 room frame building was built west of the first building and known as the "sheepshed." This housed 5th and 6th grades.  When I was in the 5th grade, we thought we were so grown up to have our own building.  School in the sheepshed was very pleasant except on chicken dressing day at the Sunbury Locker next door.

In 1951 Big Walnut High School was built on Baughman Street for grades 8 thru 12 so for that one year Sunbury elementary housed 1st thru 7th grades. The high school was too full so the 8th was returned to the elementary schools.

In 1956 classrooms and a new cafeteria were added and the old section west of the dogtrot was removed.

Classrooms were taking up every bit of space as the district moved classes to make the schools house all the students. In 1963 and 1964, the 5th grade went to the Masonic Hall on Morning Street leaving the other 7 grades in Sunbury Elementary.

In 1966 7th thru 9th grades were considered Big Walnut Junior High and met behind the high school and only grades 1 thru 6 were in Sunbury Elementary. Two years later, grades 5 thru 7 went to the Middle School and the Sunbury Elementary became grades1 thru 4. By 1972 the 5th grades were too big for the Middle School and sent back to the elementary schools.

1974 saw more renovations to the building. 3 classrooms opposite the stage were joined to form a new Instructional Media Center (IMC)) or library. Grade k thru 5 were housed here until 1978 when the building became Big Walnut Junior High housing the 7th and 8th graders.

When the new Big Walnut High School was built in 1991, the 6th, 7th, and 8th went to the old high school and this building became the Harrison Street Elementary with k thru 5th grades in attendance.

It remained that way until the district raised money and built a new elementary school on South  Miller Drive which was names General Rosecrans Elementary School.  Harrison Street Elementary School did not open in the fall of 2010.

After sitting empty for years, the Big Walnut Local School Board decided to remodel the Harrison Street School and reopen in for grades k-4 in the fall of 2014.  Kim Castiglione was selected principal of the school.


Photos from the School on Harrison Street
Sunbury1.JPG (110629 bytes) School-postcard1900.jpg (208141 bytes) Sunbury2.JPG (210866 bytes)

First 2 Buildings

circa 1900
First 2 Buildings
Outhouses Behind School 3rd Brick Building Added in 1913
  Sunbury3-1926.JPG (64435 bytes) Sunbury4-1933.JPG (102690 bytes) Harrison-1991.jpg (50324 bytes)  
  1926 Bus Lineup
1894 Graduation Sunbury Primary
Date Unknown
Sunbury School about 1895 Sunbury Grammar School
 November 1909
Sunbury High School
 November 1909
03-Staff-600.jpg (164750 bytes) 3-boys.jpg (84451 bytes) SHSB-600.JPG (82388 bytes)


First Yearbook
1915 Annual
Sunbury Grammar?
Carleton Burrer, left


  Baseball.jpg (55323 bytes) BAsketball1918-1919-600.JPG (107781 bytes) 7th-8thgrades1914-15-600.JPG (118424 bytes) Basketball-1920c.jpg (123805 bytes)
  Baseball Basketball

7th and 8th Grades

Season Record
Basketball26-27.jpg (284242 bytes)   Football.jpg (114036 bytes)
Football Team 1926

Basketball 1926-27


  SunburyGirlsBasketball.jpg (285370 bytes) GirlsBasketball2-600.JPG (195057 bytes) 1932Grads.jpg (288569 bytes)
  Sunbury Grade School - about 1924
follow this link for identification
Girls' Basketball Team
About 1932

Class of 1932

    2ndgrade1934-600.JPG (101501 bytes)    
    Class of 1944
As 2nd Graders
8thBasketball-600.JPG (100878 bytes) Grads-1927-alum.jpg (558544 bytes) Grads-1928-Alum.jpg (414123 bytes) Utley-MiltonA.JPG (86446 bytes)  

8th Grade Basketball

Alums of 1927 Alums of 1928

Milton Utley


. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(02/27/2020 )

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