Painting by designer of state flag found in Miller School

Thursday, October 18, 2012
A gift from the Greencastle High School class of 1949, this painting by Paul Hadley, designer of the Indiana State Flag, was discovered in a break room in the Miller Education Center. It is now on display in the Greencastle School Corporation board room. (Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN)

It wasn't exactly a Declaration of Independence in the attic, but among the dust-covered desks and empty hallways of the Miller Education Center, Deer Meadow Principal Gwen Morris discovered a treasure of local and state importance.

Hanging, long forgotten, on the wall of an upstairs break room, Morris found a painting of a small, country schoolhouse.

But it was more than a pretty picture. The piece, a gift from the Greencastle High School class of 1949, was painted by Paul Hadley, the Hoosier artist who designed the Indiana State Flag in 1916.

When the principals of Greencastle's schools had been charged by Superintendent Lori Richmond to "look at everything, find anything we can use" what they had in mind were things like paper clips and staples.

At best, they hoped for old pictures of corporation buildings and school administrators.

Morris knew she had something much better.

"She very excitedly brought the painting over to central office," Richmond said.

Through a bit of research, school officials have discovered the painting is likely worth a few hundred dollars. (Let's just say it won't be solving the school's budget problems in 2013.)

The Hadley connection and the local connection to a Greencastle graduating class give it a different kind of value.

"Because of who the artist is, this is a very significant find," Richmond said.

According to information from the Mooresville Public Library, Hadley (1880-1971) designed the Indiana flag as part of the state centennial in 1916. His design was chosen among more than 200 proposals, and was officially adopted in 1917.

A resident in his adult life of Mooresville, Plainfield and Richmond, Hadley never drove a car and instead hiked cross-country, painting scenic views.

The school painting appears to be one of these.

The piece bears a small plaque on the bottom of the frame, denoting the gift of the class of 1949. How it came to be on the break room wall is unclear.

Miller Education Center, having served many years as an elementary school, was most recently used as the Greencastle Community Schools Central Office, until the office moved to Ridpath Primary School in 2010.

Local authorities discovered earlier this year the building is the property of the City of Greencastle, not the school corporation. GCSC is emptying its contents from the school in order to turn control of the building back over to the city.

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