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Pioneer Room's new addition comes from Old Central

Two pieces of HHS jewelry are pictured here, dated from 1916. (Star Gazette photos by Katrina Styx)

The Hastings Pioneer Room, Hastings' own local history archive, recently received a special donation of items from the Old Central High School.

Located where Schoolhouse Square now stands, Central High School was built in 1899. It was torn down in 1961 — with much of its contents still inside, said Pioneer Room Curator Cindy Thury Smith.

However, some objects apparently survived, thanks to a former secretary at the school, Frances O'Connor Kranz McAlpin. Among the items, which were donated by her daughter, Mary Kranz Schmit, is a special piece of artwork, titled "The Singing Gallery."

The art, a plaster panel measuring 26-by-42 inches that hung in the Old Central auditorium, is a replica of one section of Luca della Robbia's Cantoria, the original of which was installed in the Florence Cathedral in Italy in the 1430s.

Thury Smith said that the panel in Old Central was apparently purchased by the class of 1908 and donated to the school; it hung in the auditorium until the building was demolished.

Thury Smith said that the Pioneer Room wants to preserve artifacts that have a strong link to Hastings, and the panel definitely fit the bill. Anyone who had been in the auditorium while the artwork was installed there would remember it, she said.

Along with the panel, Schmit donated a kindergarten chair from the school that still has its original paint, a diamond shaped Hastings High School pin, a HHS tie tack and a wooden ruler from the school.