Auction company 

Central High School memorabilia auction draws anger online – Reuters

DULUTH – You want to bid on a stuffed monkey? How about a vintage typewriter or desk? Are you interested in a skeleton without a skull, with a glass display case?

All are memorabilia from Historic Old Central High School, which closed in 1971, and all will be auctioned off alongside more than 300 other educational ephemera this weekend — but not without some criticism.

A stuffed monkey is one of the items up for sale at a Central High School memorabilia auction.


The auction raised some eyebrows on Facebook late last week after Don Ness, the former mayor of Duluth, said in a widely read and shared post that the auction was not “fair”. and that the articles should remain available to the general public. He said Tuesday he didn’t want to stop the auction, however.

“I hope the committee has the ability and the inclination to say that there are elements here that are more central to the history of Duluth Central,” Ness told the News Tribune, “and that they would recognize sort of… that there is is important to keep those that belong to the community and that they would remove those items from the auction and retain ownership within their organization or pass them on to what would then become a new organization with this mission.

New homes for old artifacts

The objects are part of a museum collection that is being dismantled to make way for a new plan for the building, which is being renovated into 121 apartments after Duluth Public Schools leaders agreed to sell it in October 2020.

Prior to the sale, a small group of volunteers called the Central High School Museum Committee maintained two classrooms filled with school memorabilia alongside, but independent of, the district administrative offices and a few classrooms. They also preserved other central relics in the school’s iconic clock tower.

But, when the building changed hands, the committee had to find a new home for the museum pieces.

Central High School Museum Pieces
A collection of trophies at the Historic Old Central High School museum shortly before the museum was dismantled to make way for apartments.

Contributed / Susan Bathory

“We did our best,” said Susan Bathory, a member of Old Central’s last class in 1971 and a member of the volunteer committee that ran the museum. One of the rooms that made up the museum is its old classroom.

Bathory pointed out that the auction does not encompass everything the museum had, and committee members worked last summer and into the fall to find permanent homes for many of its exhibits.

“It seems like everyone is upset that this is all going away, but it’s not,” Bathory said.

Several Duluth-area institutions have received pieces from the museum’s collection.

Yearbooks dating back to the founding of the school in 1892 went to the Duluth Public Library to complete a collection there. The Saint Louis County Historical Society took plaques commemorating veterans who graduated from the school and other items of historical interest, such as old letter jackets and band uniforms. The building’s redevelopment company retained several old trophy displays, furniture, and historic school photographs. And archivists at the University of Minnesota at Duluth took “everything on paper,” Bathory said.

Cleaning out an attic might yield an old outfit or central cheerleader yearbook, for example, and the museum’s collection has grown over time as the elders – or their children or grandchildren – have made it Don.

Committee members plan to use the proceeds from the auction to supplement the scholarships they award each year to graduates of the school district’s two other high schools.

A sign reading the 1890s Public Schools Classroom Museum
Artefacts from the classroom museum of the Historic Old Central High School will be auctioned on Saturday.

Contribution / Nordic Auctions

The auction is scheduled to be conducted by Duluth-based Nordic Auction at 10 a.m. Saturday at the company’s headquarters at 2713 Courtland St.

A headless human skeleton in a wooden and glass cabin
A headless human skeleton is among the items at Historic Old Central High School up for auction Saturday, August 6, 2022.

Contribution / Nordic Auctions

Traffic to Nordic’s website increased after Ness’ post. Auctioneer Forest Evavold, owner of the company, said the general response to the auction had been very positive.

“That’s what people are excited to come and buy,” Evavold said.

He said he was unsure how much money Saturday’s auction would fetch. Some items are relatively stock, while others are oversized and could be a tough sell unless a buyer has room for, say, a six-foot-tall 1913 blueprint machine.

“It’s just a really neat piece, but yet I don’t want it in my living room,” Evavold said of the machine. “But a scientist in New York would think it’s the best thing in the world. So there are variables on this one because they are so unique.

Six old framed maps hang on a classroom wall near an American flag
Relief maps hang on the wall of the Historic Old Central High School. They are among the items waiting to be auctioned.

Contribution / Nordic Auctions

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