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Plans stall for sunshine house to serve as museum

Submitted by Polk County Genealogical

Society -Shirley Manning, President

The Polk County Genealogical Society proposed to purchase the old Sunshine House Day Care building and move it to the back of the Polk County Library for the purpose of establishing a museum.

Work has been underway for some time to gather information and to work with those involved with moving and placement of the building on the library lot.

The building is important to the history of Mena and the county in that it was Mena’s first high school, and then the first county library. It was first located on the school lot (where the First Baptist church is located, at the intersection of Port Arthur and Eighth Street.) The old building, was constructed by the Townsite Company in 1898, at a cost of $1,700.

The building was purchased by the Women’s Literary Society in 1904 and moved across Eighth Street to the present location of the library. It then became Mena’s first library, opening in October, 1905. When the current library was constructed in 1970, the old school/library was sold to Tom Coplin for $300 and moved to the corner lot at Janssen and Tenth Street. It served as a residence for several years before being converted into a day care. The Sunshine House Day Care closed in 2018 and the building was placed on the market for sale, along with the other buildings and property belonging to the owners.

The Genealogical Society, as a 501-C-3 non profit, proposed to raise the funds to purchase the building and then give it to the county. The museum would have been under the management of the Polk County Library Board.

After several meetings with the quorum court, county judge, mayor, and the Library Board, it has been determined that the old school/library building cannot be located behind the current library. The Library Board felt that the space would be too cramped and if the current library needed to expand there would not be enough space to do so. Therefore, the purchase of the building has come to a halt, unless another acceptable lot can be found that would be suitable, and issues of ownership and maintenance worked out with the city and county.

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