If the walls at Syracuse Elementary School could talk they would tell you tales of horses, wagons, school buses and many remodels. The school’s story begins way back in the spring of 1899 when the decision was made to build a new elementary school in Syracuse on the east side of 2000 West just north of 1700 South. There were already several other schools in the area, but overcrowding and location for students was a problem. The estimated cost for the new school was $1600. It was also decided that the new school would be called Syracuse Central Elementary. Building quickly began and in March of 1900 the doors opened and school was officially in session.
Growth in the city was expanding quickly so two years later, two new rooms were added in the fall of 1903. During this period, a shed was also built on the east side of the school. The shed was used for over twenty years to house horses that the students rode to school, many of which traveled six miles one way. Not all of the students had a horse they could ride to school, so many were picked up and transported in an official school-wagon every morning then taken home at the end of the day. Eventually school buses replaced the horse-drawn wagons in the 1930s.
By the end of 1920, a small library and eight classrooms had been added onto the school. Modern technology was also catching up. Two indoor restrooms were added, where before the students used an outhouse that sat outside of the school. A basement was also excavated and turned into a central furnace room.
During the depression years of the 1930s, the need for a school lunch program was recognized and implemented. To help accommodate the lunch program, a lunchroom was excavated in the basement. In the beginning the lunches weren’t prepared on the school’s campus because it didn’t have a kitchen. The lunches were prepared in a resident’s home and transported to the school. The lunches cost three cents and included soup, crackers and fruit.
When a new multipurpose room was built on the north side of the building in 1958, the lunchroom was moved out of the basement and into the new larger room. The remodel at this time also included the addition of two more classrooms, an office and a much needed supply room. The sixties and seventies saw more remodeling in the school due to more growth in the city. New classroom wings and restrooms were built. Old desks were thrown out and burned and were replaced with new and better desks.
The old original section of the school was torn down in the 1980s and the front of the school took on a completely new appearance. The large paned windows were replaced with smaller windows as a new office, media center and more classrooms were added.
Special visitors have also visited the elementary school over the years, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert. In the fall of 2011, Governor Herbert visited the school to observe students who are in the highly acclaimed Chinese Immersion program.
The word “central” was removed from the school’s title decades ago, giving the school the name of Syracuse Elementary. A recent remodel was completed in March of this year. The remodel added a new kitchen, multipurpose room, computer rooms and an outdoor activity area. The multipurpose room/cafeteria was moved to a new and updated addition to the school. The old area is now the school’s new library.
Those who attended, worked for, or volunteered at Syracuse Elementary will always have their own special memories of the school no matter which phase they were there for. The walls of the school may not be able to talk, but many memories have been documented, while others will live in the hearts of those who walked in the halls of Syracuse Elementary School.
Additional photos submitted by reader Diane Palmer