The City of Hartford is currently wrapping up a deal which will secure a portion of the former school property.
Hartford Mayor Richard Hartsfield said on Monday, January 11 that the city is purchasing the elementary school property as well as the historic McClung home.
The property will be the site of the new city park, and big plans are in the works for the McClung property, home of songwriter and publisher John Alexander McClung.
McClung joined the army during World War I where he was awarded the Purple Heart during action in France. After his honorable discharge from the army he moved to Hartford and attended the Hartford Music Institute. He then became an instructor and later purchased the Hartford Music Company & Institute. He traveled all over the United States with his singing schools and the Hartford Quartet of which he was a member. He wrote over 300 published songs, his most noteworthy being “Standing Outside” and “Just A Rose Will Do.” He published church song books that are still in use today, his last being “Living Faith” copyrighted in 1942. In April, 1992 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in gospel music.
Public Works Director Rich Gaylen is currently working to secure the piano belonging to the McClungs, which is currently on display at Dollywood. “It is in care of the Southern Gospel Music Association, and they are closed down at this time. But, the piano itself was gifted to Dolly Parton, with the understanding that if we ever had a museum that it would come back to us.”
Following the restoration of the McClung residence, the city plans to open its doors as a gospel music museum.
The property purchase will also allow the city to attempt to preserve the “senior walk” and construct a future display. Parking for both the new city park and the gospel music museum will be made available, according to Gaylen, by blocking off a potion of Maple Street.
With great plans on the horizon, the City of Hartford is looking forward to a period of successful growth and development. “This is going to be good for our town, and this entire community,” Galyen concluded.