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The collection comprises archival materials relating to the history of Syracuse Central High School and the academic and extracurricular activities of its students. Items date from 1885 to 2004, along with numerous undated materials. There are six main categories of the collection: academic records, class year materials, special events, extracurricular activities, student societies, and school-related materials.
Syracuse Central High School was founded in 1903 to replace the 1867 Syracuse High School facility located near the old Board of Education Building in Syracuse, New York. The new high school, designed in 1899 by Archimedes Russell to accommodate 1,500 students, was erected in 1903 at the intersection of South Warren and Adams streets, south of the business district of downtown Syracuse. The high school operated under the name Syracuse Central High School from 1903 to 1960 and later as Syracuse Central Technical High School. In 1975, the high school officially closed after the graduation of the senior class. Even though the high school has been vacant since 1975, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.
The collection was gathered, compiled, and managed by Nicholas C. Nett, a 1952 SCHS alumnus. Nett created the collection to preserve the cultural heritage of the currently defunct high school. Nett expected to donate the collection when the School reopened as The Institute of Technology @ Syracuse Central. However, those plans never materialized and Nett subsequently donated the expansive collection to OCPL in 2009. Nett did significant outreach to SCHS/Central Tech alumni to obtain their personal school memorabilia and academic records.