The Morris W. Levy Elementary School, now known as the Levy Special Education Center, has a rich history that dates back to its opening in September 1952. The original school was located at 2001 East Stafford and was named in honor of Morris W. Levy, who was born in France in 1844 and came to Wichita in 1872.
Levy partnered with J.M. Steel in 1873, creating the Steele and Levy land office, and handled the real estate deals for William Greiffenstein. The trio advocated for making Douglas the main street in Wichita. He later joined Marshall Murdock, Kos Harris, and M.S. Niedelander on a trip to New York to convince the Missouri Pacific Railroad to come to Wichita, which they did.
Mr. Levy was a lawyer, Mason, member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and an active participant in civic affairs. He served on the Wichita School Board for 12 years. Mr. Levy also founded the Wichita Library Association, was president of the Kansas Bankers Association, secretary of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Board of Directors of the Board of Trade, and treasurer of the Stock Association. He also served as president of the Wichita National Bank.
The original Morris W. Levy Elementary School was constructed in 1952.
In 1971, the Levy Elementary School stopped functioning as an elementary school, but the facility continued to be used for the education of students with special needs from kindergarten through 12th grade. As a result, the school was renamed the Levy Special Education Center.
In 1980, the Levy Special Education Center facility was constructed at a cost of $3.8 million. The building was designed to provide an educational setting for students with multiple disabilities, autism, and intellectual disabilities. The building has wider door openings, handrails in all hallways, and ADA compliant restrooms and drinking fountains, to meet the needs of its students.
The original building was razed, and the property was sold.
The Levy Special Education Center expanded in 2001 with the addition of 22 classrooms. The school also has a gym for adapted P.E. and a hydro-therapy pool, a Life Skills area with cooking and laundry facilities, a music room, library, vocational training center, two health rooms, and a cafeteria.
Morris W. Levy was a prominent figure in Wichita’s early history, and his contributions to the city are still remembered today. Levy Street, which was named after him, was changed to Mt. Vernon by the city commission in July 1953.
Levy also played a role in creating the town of Colwich.
Levy’s wife, Sarah Kohn Levy, died in New York City in 1933 at the age of 77. Morris W. Levy died on July 11, 1929, at the age of 85. I really make an effort to get the gravesite pictures, but I could not find any information on the burial of this couple.
He was remembered by attorney, Kos Harris as the greatest pioneer Wichita ever had, “a man who built Wichita and carried his battles for the city’s growth before the financial leaders of the East. Mr. Levy’s accomplishments made him the city’s outstanding man… and he should have been called the father of the Wichita packing industry.”
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