Tear it down or fix it up: Class of '66 push to restore Syracuse Central Tech
SYRACUSE, NY —
The Syracuse Central Technical High School is on South Warren Street across from the current Syracuse bus station.
The school was opened in 1903, and during the 72 years it was open, close to 20,000 students graduated.
In 1975 the school closed down and was sold for commercial development, but six years later the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It is a trip down memory lane, flipping back through the pages and memories dating back five decades.
"That's me back in 1966. Donna Koster," Donna Kuzio said.
She is a proud alum of Syracuse Central Technical High School and graduated in 1966.
"Certainly, we remember good times that we had," she said.
Looking back, the school memories are still fun.
"As you walk down the hallways you remember 'O, I had French class in here' and 'O, that's where we had chorus.' 'O, this is where so and so kissed so and so for the first time," Kuzio said.
After the school closed, a developer started remodeling it in the mid-1980's. They even walled off the famed Lincoln Auditorium that sits inside the school.
The project failed, and the building has sat empty ever since.
"I'm at a loss for words - to express feelings. There certainly was sadness and disappointment that the building was let to go," Kuzio said.
Now it's in the hands of the Syracuse City School District. They don't have any plans for the building, but the class of '66 does.
They toured the school during a reunion and noticed water damage destroying parts of the historic auditorium.
"We were appalled by this gaping hole, and we were concerned about further damage and deterioration. Cause they have supposedly cleaned up the stage before we had gotten there," Kuzio said.
What followed was a mission to preserve the space and fix the damage. They formed a committee hope to raise money for the repairs. They also pushed to designate it a protected site.
"The Landmark Preservation Board's chief concern is protecting the historic character of the property," Syracuse preservation planner Kate Auwaerter said.
In April the common council approved that designation, meaning any development must preserve the auditorium and make it available to the public.
The preservation board would also have to approve any future changes.
"It really seems as though the redevelopment of that site and the reuse of the property is primed. It's ready now after these number of years of kind of wallowing a bit," Auwaerter said.
It is a building that is a piece of history that won't be torn down, and now former students filled with fond memories are pushing to fix it up.