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Now & Then: Sumner-Cowley Electric Headquarters

The Sumner-Cowley Electric Cooperative Headquarters turned 55 this summer! The building, located at 2223 N. A St. in Wellington, is an integral part of our cooperative’s rich history. Let us take a look back at the past 74 years.

Sumner-Cowley has had three homes since first opening in 1938. The first office was located at 122 E. Harvey St. in Wellington, where superintendant C.L. Webber of ArkansasCity and first Board of Trustees President Harold Kroger worked to bring energy to rural farmers. In January 1941, less than two years after becoming energized, the office moved to its next location at 122 E. Lincoln and acquired a warehouse in 1945. At the time, the office and warehouse was plenty of space for the young cooperative, who employed seven full-time and two part-time employees, as growth was halted due to World War II. 

The decade following the conclusion of World War II was a period of growth and expansion brought about by electrical living and dependence on power. Sumner-Cowley increased from 939 members in January 1945 to 2732 members in September 1957. Due to the increased membership and electrical usage, the cooperative needed more space and personnel to support their members. The Board of Trustees looked for available buildings in the City of Wellington, but found none to be satisfactory. Therefore, the Board purchased a vacant site in north Wellington, and the building contract was approved on Oct. 21, 1957.

In the Manger’s Column from the November 1957 issue of Kansas Country Living (then titled Electric Farmer), General Manager Reed W. Price explained the purpose of the new project to Sumner-Cowley’s members.

“It is the hope of the Board of Trustees that the available office space in the NewOfficeBuilding will take care of existing demands as well as future expansion for office space and warehousing area.”

The hope of the Board became reality in May 1958 when the new headquarters became available for occupancy. The building became a workplace to nine office personnel and three linemen. To celebrate the major milestone, Sumner-Cowley hosted an open house the following month for employees and members, which included guided tours of the new building and refreshments.

“From the questions and comments it was obvious to the Cooperative personnel that the great majority of the visitors agreed that we were justifiably proud of our new home,” said Price.

And justified they were! The building would not undergo any major changes until 41 years later in July 1999. Current General Manager, Cletas Rains, and the Board of Directors planned and approved new additions and improvements to the 1958 building. Some of these additions, completed in early 2000, included new offices, a board room, more parking, more warehouse space and perhaps most importantly, a drive-through for members.

Sumner-Cowley’s headquarters are still located at 2223 N. A St., proudly serving 4,377 members with 1,975 miles of line in five counties. Come in and see us!

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