Sunshine School – San Francisco CA


This school was originally built for children with physical disabilities. It later became a continuation high school, and currently houses the SFUSD Cal-SAFE program, the Hilltop School, and various community agencies. At the time of its construction, it housed 18 classrooms, a courtyard and a therapeutic bathing pool. It was situated near Buena Vista Elementary School, which was also designed for children with various health ailments. The first floor of the building was devoted to crippled children and provided facilities for their education and care. The patio provided a play area in which they could move about freely in their wheelchairs or play various sports activities. The second floor served undernourished children and children with heart problems. The entire building was built from reinforced concrete, is fireproof, and was designed to be earthquake safe. “The entire building is constructed of reinforced concrete, is fireproof throughout, and is designed to resist both major and minor earthquake disturbances. A considerable use is made of decorative tile which greatly adds to the color and reflection of light. Everything possible has been done to create the most cheerful possible atmosphere in order to encourage the children to forget as far as possible their disabilities. Each dining room is provided with a small stage on the side opposite the doors opening onto the patio. There is a corrective gymnasium on each floor and, in addition to the classrooms on the first floor, there are rooms for manual training, art, music, and domestic science, and a small library…The project was completed in September 1937 at a construction cost of $268,987 and a project cost of $287,713.” –Short and Brown, pp. 185-187. The interior plan of the school was recommended by a special committee of physicians and educators and was approved by the San Francisco Board of Education. The building has recently been restored through extensive renovations.

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes

National Archives and Records Administration, Box 386, Reel 4604-4605 Short, C. W. (Charles Wilkins).

Stanley-Brown, R. (Rudolph). Public Buildings : a Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration. Washington, D.C. : Public Works Administration : U.S. G.P.O., 1939.

The Architect and Engineer. November 1938.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Location Info

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2730 Bryant St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Location notes: Bryant & 25th Street

Coordinates: 37.750454, -122.40916

45 comments on “Sunshine School – San Francisco CA

  1. john keenan

    Thank you so much for the pictures of Sunshine School. I was a student there and have always wanted to know more about it and what happened to it. I have great memories of my time there and remember how impressed even as a small child I was by the facility.

    If you are aware of any more information about the school please let me know.

    John Keenan

    • John,
      Thanks for the message. Gray Brechin may know more about the Sunshine School; it’s one of his favorite New Deal sites. I suggest you write him separately.

  2. David Lawrence

    Hello my name is David Lawrence

    I as a child attended Sunshine School back in the 1960’s. The Principle at that time was Margaret Scanlan.. whom sadly since has passed away though she lived into her late 90’s I believe. I too was always wondering what happened to the school its been so long ago. I’m 57 now and still struggling with my birth born disability of Spina Bifida. I spent many times in Hospitals since. The last I remember being there at Sunshine School, was at the end of school year for summer vacation in 1966. At pretty much end of summer time was when I had to go into Shriners Hospital.. to help with my legs and feet at that time., but years since I still have problems. But I keep on keeping on.. its just I and my younger Sister left now.. with both Parents and older Brother passing away. I moved away from California in 1990 to Missoula, Mt. was there for 18 years.. then 4 or 5 years in Las Vegas, Nv. I just recently moved back to Ca.,in May.. I am currently living in Santa Rosa.

    I haven’t really accomplished too much in my life and its my reget to live with. I never married as yet so I have no children or Grand Children. I can still remember some of the kids them from that era,.. Barbara Chin, John Williams, Ottis Martin, Ted Elliott, Norman Mack, David Flowerday, Norman Erikson, Robert Phiffer, Spencer de Bella, to name a few. And off and on been trying to find out what ever became of any of them, whether some have passed if not all still around. Well Thanks for keep the building still standing though its not a school anymore.

    David Lawrence.

    • David,
      Thanks for the personal memoire. We hope you connect with other former students at the Sunshine School.

    • To David Lawrence
      I’m not sure if you are checking here anymore. Your original post was about six months ago. I may be one of the individuals you mention in your post. You mention a “John Williams”. I’m John Williamson. I was a student of the Sunshine School in the 60’s. And I’m the same age as you. I now live in Pennsylvania. I’m not sure I remember you (or anyone else) – that time of my life is somewhat foggy.

      For others reading my words: I’m a product of the Sunshine School. I was born with congenital birth defects. Shriner’s Hospital of San Francisco helped me get a better start in life. My early education years were at Sunshine School. The pictures of the school do bring back memories. One thing I remember from my youth was when the school would bring in truckloads of snow into the courtyard and all the students would have the opportunity to go snow sledding. I might even have a picture of those events.

      Thanks for posting this memoir.

    • Marilyn Laidlaw

      It is so wonderful to find so many people who attended The Sunshine School in the early 1960s. My sister, JoAnn Cosentini attended the school until 1961. She turned 14 in February of that year, but I do not know what grade she was in at the time. Unfortunately she died two days after Christmas of that year.

      I know nothing about the school and have been trying to find out any information about how the day was structured and what the classes were like. I was only five years old in 1961 and have only one memory of being in the car when she was dropped off in the morning. I have been a teacher in SFUSD for over 20 years and am very interested in learning something about how the students were taught and how their various disabilities were addressed.

      Of course, I would very much like to connect with anyone who remembers anything about my sister, JoAnn. My email address is: [email protected]. Please feel free to email me with any memories of the school routine or memories of my sister. Thank you, Marilyn Laidlaw

  3. David Lawrence

    Thank you DW, for the reply.. was wondering if you might have any suggestions on how to possibly search somewhere for students from that time frame and era of the early to mid 60’s . From Sunshine School in San Francisco. Thank you for your time.

    David Lawrence

  4. David Lawrence


    • David Muro

      Hello David, I don’t know if you remember me, but my name is David Muro. I went to SS school at the same time you and John Williamson. Besides you and John, I remember Johnet Estrada, Michael Phillipi, Alan Jones, and many others including the teachers we had. I too was wandering what ever happened to SS School and the students who attended their. I’m on facebook if you want to look me up.

  5. David Lawrence

    This is to John Keenan: Hello Sir.. I don’t know if your older or younger than I. But my name is David Lawrence. I’m 57 now, and I too attended Sunshine School back in the 60’s Margaret Scanlon was the School’s Principle. I’m not sure if you went there before or after I had. The Last time I remember being there was in 1966 at the end of School year going into Summer Vacation. To this day I can still remember some of the Kids names and its been 47 years since I was there. Off and on I have been trying to locate any, all, or some of them that may still be around. Might you have gone there during that time or earlier than ’66.

    Thank You For Your time,
    David Lawrence

    • Gustavo Gonzalez

      I’m Gustavo Gonzalez I started Sunshine Sept. 1966 with miss Lyons then miss Pyle I was a non english student just arrived from Mexico, I learned english fast and loved the school until I was made fun off for going to a retarded school after that I attended MarinaJH.
      The kids I remember Norman Mc, Gustavo Orozco, Norman Erickson, Lisa Livingston, Eduardo Martinez, Maurine Obrient, Rafael Picazo, I don’t remember the last names of, Haime, Ted, Julia, Michelle, Emanuel,

  6. This is Joe:

    Well, I went to Sunshine school, too. I was born with CP. and hearing losses. I was there from about 1967 to about 1972 or so. I don’t remember…then I went to Clarendon Elementary. I am glad to see some old picture of the school. I am now 50 and never married. But currently work in the field of non-profit finance in SF.

  7. wiley shaver

    My brother and I attended SS about 1950/52. We both had polio. Mrs Scanlon was also there then. I remember her breezing thru the lunchroom, dress flowing, and leaving a trail of perfume. We played marbles then. One day there was an earthquake that bounced me and my chair 15 feet across the floor. I’m 70 now

  8. Mark Bulnes,
    I was a student at Sunshine School, from 1969- 1974.
    I have very fond memories of Sunshine School.
    The teachers their, did not baby you.
    The teachers wanted to prepare you for life.
    The physical tharapy staf were very professional.
    Sunshine School, was well maintained and very clean.
    Believe it or not I still remember all the teachers I was taught by.
    I especially remember helping the Mozachic Sun.

  9. John Keenan

    First thanks to all who posted.

    I am 63 and attended the school in first and second grade. I had Legg Perthsis

    I remember being picked up at my home in the Sunset in a taxi. The driver was Walter a very nice man and taken with others to the school. My memories of the school are not great. I do remember the earthquake in 1857 I was in the solarium for a nap or some other activity. Thankfully nothing happened in this well built building.

    David Lawrence and others if you see this I too would like to find a way to reconnect with all who attended this great place. I still live in the Bay Area

    While my memories are weak of my time their they are all very positive. Great teachers and classmates.

    John Keenan

  10. Ivan Vegvary

    I attended Sunshine School in 1954. At this point I am almost 72 years old. My teacher was Ms. Duffy, and of course the principal was Mrs. Scanlan. I say Ms. Duffy, because during my one school year her husband passed away. Remember Mrs. Scanlan telling the class to give her condolences upon her return.
    I didn’t speak any English (Hungarian born). Most memorable moment was being out in the court yard, crawled under a picnic table with an African-American girl named Stella. We would spend every recess and lunch time with her teaching me English. Kids would come by and snicker. I didn’t realize at the time that Stella was black. Kids don’t notice things like that.

  11. I will bet $100 that the Wiley Shaver who commented above on April 8, 2014, is my boyhood friend from Ft Leavenworth and Ft Sill. His brother’s name was George. Please ask him to contact me. 281-703-2881

  12. Danny York

    I attended Sunshine School from 1960 through 1968 (kindergarten through 8th grade). I am now 60 years old and living in southern Cakifornia. I remember Ted Elliott, Norman Erickson, Michael Phillipi (who was a talented artist), Johnet Estrada, Andy Smith and many others. Among the wonderful teachers were Mrs. Sangiacomo (6th grade), Mrs. Duffy (7th grade), and Mrs. Pyle (5th grade). Polly Day was my Physical Therapist. I feel very fortunate to have received the care and education at this wonderful school. I wonder if there are reunions.

  13. Teresa Salm

    I was at sunshine school in 1964 to 1973. My teacher was Mrs Pyle, my Physical Therapy Mrs Day. Mrs Scanlan was here. I remember mrs Duffy, Mrs Nagle is was an OT. And Mr Martin our flute instrument instructor.
    There were a few class that worked on the mosaic sun, and fish, and few others that we all did. Sunshine School was special for most of us who were there. I remember a truck full of snow can and unloaded it in one of the corners of the play ground for the kids to enjoy, the holloween costume parade in the court yard. All the teachers taught us will, and taught us how to survive out side sunshine school. It was sad to leave, but I’m very glad that sunshine school is revised, still standing.. Thank to the teachers and PT, OT and Mrs Scanlan, thanks to sunshine school for everything. Teresa S.

  14. Regina Thomas

    Hi, I also attended Sunshine School, it is wonderful to see the pictures of the place that holds so many wonderful memories for me.
    It would be wonderful if this site could be pinned on Pinterest, there are a lot of alumni.
    I have a lot of the same memories as others on this page.


    • Gabriel Milner

      Glad our site is bringing back good memories. Pinterest is a good idea– we’ll look into it.

  15. Nichollette Minix

    Hi! My name is Nichollette Minix A.K.A. (Nicky) I attended Sunshine Elementary School kindergarten through 6th grade (1971—1977). This was the best school for disabled kids who were not able to schools in their neighborhood. Mrs. Pyle was 5th grade teacher, Ms. Day for voice, and Mrs. Martin was my music instructor (I played the flute and xylophone).

    Sunshine was an outstanding school and I hope one day someone will put together a Sunshine Reunion.

  16. Sue Kliewe Durkovich

    I attended Sunshine in 1950; remember classmates Donald O’Classen, Linda Lund, Larry Thamert, Margie, Dwayne. Didn’t realize school had been going so long. Have many fond memories there. I’m 75 now, and would like to hear from anyone from 1950’s

  17. Sue Kliewe Durkovich

    I went to SS 1950-1953. Classmates Donald O’Classen, Linda Lund, Larry Thamert, Margie, Dwayne.

  18. John Keenan

    Must admit for years I was beginning to thnk I was the only one who went to Sunshine School as nothing was ever written about it. Has anyone gone as far as a visit to the SF School department archives on the school? Must admit I have not.

    I agree with the comments it was a great school and the education IMO was very very good. A tribute to the teachers

    Nichollette a reunion would be great, but a good start may be a Facebook page? I am not on Pinterest so candidly not clear how that would work.

  19. Barbara Young Brown

    I’ve loved reading your comments. My mother Jackie Young was a Speech Therapist at Sunshine School from 1964 into 1968. During the school year 1968-69, her last year at Sunshine, she taught pre-school there. Do any of you remember her and can tell me something of what you remember of her? Also, what year was Sunshine School converted to a high school? Thank you!

  20. T Dea Robertson-Gutierrez

    Mom, Lydia Radich, also was an alumni of SS in the early 40’s. She ended her educational endeavors at SFSU magna Cum Laude. graduated with honors from Boalt Hall School of law at UC Berkeley. She was a PUC Commissioner under the late Mayor Moscone Administration. And a very close friend of the late John Roberts and Judy Human all who were instrumental in the passing of SB #504 in 1972. She lived to raise 5 children, (I am number #1). Her list of accolades goes ad infinitum. She passed on quietly after 70 years. It suffices to say that Sunshine School knew how to raise them..

  21. T Dea Robertson-Gutierrez

    Correction: SB #504 in 1977 and not 1972.

  22. Hi there – This is Patty Berne, Nikki, I think we were friends back in the day! I was there maybe 1970 – 76? I’m a wheelchair user, and always wore my hair in two long braids as a child. Do you remember me?

    I lived in the Richmond District and took a bus to the grammar school — and was it the longest route! Through Potrero Hill, China Town, all over SF until we’d arrive at school…

    I love my memories of indigo colored tile and the pool with the long transfer table that would trundle over the pool and slowly lower its passenger into the pool… I’m actually developing a short performance piece based on my memories of that pool, the courtyard, and my friend Angie, who also attended Sunshine School.

    It’s so great to connect with others 🙂 I’m still in the Bay Area, in Berkeley, A reunion would be awesome!

  23. John Keenan

    I contacted the SF Unified School District regarding Sunshine School. The archivist was helpful but in the end told me that they did or could not find any information on the school. I was quite surprised but it appears that many schools in SF have come and gone and the history is lost. Thankfully the great memory of the school is still in the minds of its alumni and their families.

    As to a reunion of some sort, I think it is a good idea but may be tough to get in contact with former students.

    A small lunch may be a good way to start.

  24. Hello again now three years later.. and 60.. though I don’t look it.. LOL. Oh well I suppose I should be grateful. To John Williamson: Though I remember it as Williams.. If you are the one I remember.. I seem to remember no offence, that you hadn’t legs, sometimes mobileing around that way, I think, and sometimes you’d come to school wearing prosthetics. If I got that wrong please forgive me.

    And to David Muro: I believe I remember you.. different ones would ride to school on different buses depending on where we all lived I believe you were always on the bus I was on . Somewhere in my stuff here in my room.. I still have a class picture .. wearing out but still legible.. I could try to take it into my photo app I use: LUNAPIC PHOTO EDITOR and clean it up..via Facebook.. yes if anyone is interested in connecting that way I am on Facebook: (David Lawrence .. I live in Santa Rosa, Calif). In the class photo your in it as is others and I believe John Williamson is too, and Spence de Bella to name a few.. I tried to find it before posting this but can’t but I know its here.. Maybe its in my photos in Facebook. Why just Yesterday Oct. 23, 2016 my Sister posted an old pic she had of me and Norman Erickson. it was while he and I were attending. MacAtteer High School… San Francisco.. hell the last I remember seeing him he was like 17, 18.. maybe 19.. I think he was little older then I. If he is still around I think he’d be 61 now.. I’ll be 61 in February… connecting via Facebook would be better then keep coming back here.. God Bless.

  25. Follow up: I did find that class picture from I believe it says Spring of 1961.. not sure the Teacher from the class Mrs. Pyle I think.. though the lady in the photo is I believe Mrs. Scanlon.. the students in the photo if any is interested are: TOMMY ELLIS, PAUL TERCERA, RICHARD McNAULTY, JOHN “WILLIAMSON”, ROLAND WONG, ME…….., (David Lawrence), PHILLIP WILLIAMS, SPENCER DE BELLA, DAVID NOLAN, DAVID MURO, DEBRA BASS.

  26. To John Keenan.. If your still with us, I’m on Facebook (my second home) haha.. I live in Santa Rosa.

  27. Barbra,

    I remember your mother,she was my teacher Marina junior high 1974-1977.
    Sunshine school became a high in 1984.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Mark Bulnes

  28. Stephanie Bizaca

    OMG I am so glad I found this page! That school sure looks different now.

    I attended Sunshine school back when we were picked up by taxi cabs to be brought to and from school. It was during my later years at the school when cabs were no longer used and they switched to using small buses instead.

    Mrs. Margaret Scanlon was the principal at the time. I remember some of the teachers, Mrs. Duffy, Mrs. Mar, Miss O’Connell, Mrs. Beaumister (not sure how to spell name) and some orderlies Mr Kamurna (not sure of spelling). I loved that school!! It was so much a part of my life at that time. The programs that were put on are still, to this day, unforgettable. I remember Santa coming to the school at Christmas time and I remember the Easter program plays and getting Easter baskets full of good stuff.

    One year snow was brought into the school yard and we got to play outside most of that day. The news men from KPIX were there and I remember once I was on the ground trying to get up when the newsman, who was talking to Mrs Scanlon at the time, stepped back onto my fingers. He didn’t know it because I didn’t say anything and when he moved I got up again from the ground. LOL

    One of my best girlfriends today is a girl who also went to Sunshine school. We’ve been good friends forever and often talk about the good old days being at Sunshine.

    Thanks for bringing back such good memories!

    • John Keenan

      Stephanie thanks so much for reminding me of the cab ride I took to Sunshine School. My driver’s name was Walter and he was a very nice to all of us. Amazing to think that the City contracted with a cab company to get us all to school quite a different time.

      I remember the snow at the yard as well and I think they were also pictures in the newspaper of it.

      I attended SS around the same time as you 55-57.


      • Stephanie Bizaca

        Hi John,
        I don’t remember seeing the article in the paper about the snow but I do remember watching it on TV on the news.

        I think my cab driver’s name was Dick but I’m not really sure about that. That was really something to be picked up by cabs. Later when I was in 7th or 8th grade they switched to small school buses. I didn’t like that and wished they kept the cabs. The personal touch was more comfortable.

        I’m sorry I don’t remember you but since you were only there for two years and we were so young it is no surprise that I don’t remember you.

        Thank you for replying to my comment.
        Take care.

        Stephanie Bizaca

  29. Stephanie Bizaca

    I was wondering if there are any pictures of the inside of the school from back when I attended there. I was there from 1954 – 1963. I would sure like to see the classrooms again and where we took our naps outside of those classrooms, the cafeterias, etc. I think the Hilltop School Gallery (pictured on this page) is where we used to take our naps with our classrooms off to the right side of that room. I remember our lockers were under the windows on the left side of that area.

    Thanks 🙂

  30. Paulette Roberts

    Hi fellow alumni. I was so thrilled to see this article about Sunshine School. I am the life long friend of Stephanie, known in Sunshine School as Paulette Funk. I went there from 2nd to 8th grade. My favorite teachers were Mrs Duffy, Ms. Sangiacomo, & Ms. Nagel. I had PT in & out of the pool, played clarinet in the band & sang in Glee Club. I do remember Michael Phillipi, but not sure of the others mentioned above. Stephanie, Noreen Soo Hoo, Michael Tognetti, Ricky Mueller, Billy Clark, Michael Sullivan, Kathy Small, Glenda Nesbitt have me the fondest of memories. It has been a blessing to have Stephane & Glenda as my bffs still today. Maybe some of you will remember a few of these folks. Sunshine was the best time of my young life. Also, someone may remember my mother arranged to have Lassie from the tv series visit & she was responsible for bringing in the snow. Playing ping pong & racing in the old wheelchairs during recess was the best! It is wonderful to see all of your listings. I hope their will be many more!

  31. Paulette Roberts

    I hope more alumni see this website.

    • Paulette Roberts

      Hi Alumni,
      My name is Paulette, known as Paulette Funk. I attended Sunshine School from 1956 – 1963. It was the best school I ever went to. I have so many memories, but too many to post here. Stephanie, who recently posted has been my life long dear friend since we met at Sunshine School. Also, my other life long friend from Sunshine is Glenda Nisbett. Other friends I remember are Noreen Soo Hoo, Kathy Small, Michael Tognetti, Michael Sullivan, Billy Clark, Nicky Geracimos, Ricky Mueller, & Jan Miller, who sadly passed away years ago. . Teachers I remember are Mrs. Duffy, Mrs. Scanlin, Ms. O’Connell, Ms. Sangiacomo, Ms. Mar; theraists, Ms. Mc Kenzie, & Ms. Nagel; helper, Mr. Kamurna;, & Mr. Martin, band. My mother was responsible for bringing in the snow. That was so much fun! Also, maybe someone will remember Lassie from the TV series coming to visit the school. I hope more people visit this site and post. It is really cool to read about those who also experienced what I experienced at Sunshine School.

  32. Gustavo Gonzalez

    I started 4th grade in Sept. 1966 in Mrs. Lyons class then 5th and 6th with Mrs. Pyle.
    I was a fat mexican kid with polio on crutches now in a wheelchair.
    It was there that I learned english, never got to be in Mrs. Sangiecomo’s class but I loved her just the same, looking back on it I think wasthat her name? or was it Mrs. Angie Como?. All the teachers were lovely.
    I remember the irish stew with cornbread I think Mrs. Mossley was the cook.
    Does anyone remember etiquette class with a teacher that wore a poodle skirt in the late 60s?
    And who can forget the big snow mountain by the elevator,
    I remember many students but not all their last names their faces are still in my mind, Norman Mac, Norman Erickson, Lisa livingston, Maurine O’Bryant, Eduardo Martines, Kevin Herdrahead, Rafael Picazo, A small person named Emanuel he was very sweet, Ernest Lee, Linda that moved her head side to side, Maggie, Walter, Otis, Haime, Edwin, Teresa, Michael, brothers Peter and Simon and many more I think af all with love in my hart.

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