Past Offers Sign of Future

Thursday, August 26, 2004

By Maureen Nolan, Staff writer

The historic vacant school at South Warren and East Adams streets now bears a bronze plaque that proclaims its destiny. That is, its destiny if all goes as planned.

The new sign says: "Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central High School." The building originally was the old Syracuse Central High, and the Central High Class of 1952 donated the sign, which cost nearly $1,500, class member Nicholas Nett said.

Nett, 71, of Baldwinsville, is the unofficial Central High historian. The sign is the third in the spot. The first consisted of raised lettering attached to the wall and dated to 1903, when Central High opened, Nett said.

Those letters came off in 1961, when that year's graduating class removed it to put up a bronze plaque that identified the school as the Syracuse Technical High School, which the building became in 1960. The district closed that school in the mid-1970s and eventually sold the building.

The city and district bought it back again a couple of years ago to transform it into a career and technical high school. Funding and budget problems have delayed the project, which originally was supposed to be open by now.

School district officials now say September 2006 is the most likely opening date, but money for the project still hasn't been sewn up.

All the same, the Class of 1952 and other Central High boosters went ahead and had the plaque made and dedicated it with a ceremony early this summer. They were eager to establish its new identify and proud that part of the original name remained.

"They wanted to get a little bit of an impetus to the project, getting the name on there," said Nett, who gave the dedication.

The old Central Tech sign came down when the new one went up, and Nett would like to see it become part of the Central High archive he and other gung-ho alums have assembled.

Among the collection is the only known Central football jersey, a cheerleader's uniform with megaphone, a gym suit with bloomers, yearbooks and programs from concerts held in the school's Lincoln Auditorium, once a leading local venue.

Nett said the district has promised to set aside an "alumni room" when the new school opens, where the collection could be displayed.

But the public may be able to get a look at it before then. Nett said he is working with the Onondaga County Central Library to exhibit the items late this fall at the Galleries downtown.

And in the downtown library's local collection are a number of Central High yearbooks and nearly 300 copies of the school newspaper "The Recorder," Nett said.

2004 The Post-Standard.

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