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HISTORY LIVES: Sunnyside School


In 1970, the noted Doylestown Intelligencer columnist, Lester Trauch, quoted Margaret N. Curry, who wrote “In the early 1900’s. . .my sister Katie and I trudged off each morning to school [a mile-long walk]. It was just across from Andre’s Greenhouses and adjacent to Fordhook...Our teacher, Miss Buckman (1872-1961), was always there to greet us. Often on cold mornings she would take off our mittens, rub our nearly frozen fingers and lead us to a bench near the huge pot-bellied stove. You see, Miss Buckman was not only the teacher of 25 to 30 pupils in grades one to eight in this little red schoolhouse, but she was also the chief stoker.” Miss May Buckman taught in the Sunnyside School for 39 years.

The one-room country school on Lower State Road was originally built in 1868 and was rebuilt after a fire in 1895. It was one of five country schools in Doylestown Township that were consolidated into one single township-wide school on Turk Road.

When the Paul Kutz Elementary School opened in 1936, Sunnyside was no longer used as a public school. In 1991, Fred Martin Jr. and his wife Sue saw a newspaper advertisement for the former one-room schoolhouse. The brick building had been converted into a residence years earlier, but it was in poor condition. Fred said it took more than a year to get the house into livable condition.

Reminders of the building’s former life were everywhere: ornamental heat registers set into the floor, wooden wainscoting throughout, and patterns of three nail holes arranged evenly in rows where desks were attached to the floor.

Today, the Martins are no longer living, and Sunnyside has changed hands once again; but the old school bell remains, along with the schoolhouse’s long history.