Upstate New York has bequeathed to the American culture two iconic towns, neither of which exist in the real world. Bedford Falls from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life is based on the village of Seneca Falls…or so claim the people of Seneca Falls! Oz of the Wizard of Oz book series and one memorable movie also derives its origin from the exact same area – author Frank Baum was spurred on by his living in Fayetteville in what is now the Gage Home. [Read more…] about Oz and Bedford Falls: Upstate NY’s American Icons
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum commemorated the important role of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal in the development of Geneva by donating an historical marker for the city’s waterfront. City and boating museum officials dedicated the marker in a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday on the lakefront near the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce building. Bill Oben, President of the Boating Museum, made the presentation to Mayor Stu Einstein.
The dedication ceremony coincided with the stopover in Geneva of the Lois McClure, an 88-foot canal schooner moored for three days on the lakefront just west of the Chamber. The McClure is a full-scale working replica of an 1862 canal schooner, a unique example of working vessels that carried goods throughout Northeastern waterways during the 19th century.
“The scheduled arrival of the schooner Lois McClure in Geneva harbor this week is a wonderful reminder of the significant role the Cayuga-Seneca Canal played in the development of Geneva and the region beyond throughout the 19th century,” said Oben. “The last vestiges of the canal along the Geneva waterfront disappeared long ago as the old waterway was filled in to make way for the arterial highway. As we plan the future home of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum on the site of the original entrance to this historic canal, it’s appropriate to recognize this with placement of an enduring marker identifying the former location of this important transportation artery.”
Oben said the historical marker at the original canal entrance will be similar to others already along the waterfront that note significant people and places in Geneva’s history. Geneva Granite donated the granite base for the plaque.
The plaque on the marker will read as follows: “At this point in 1828, water from Seneca Lake was first released into the newly constructed Cayuga-Seneca Canal, forming a navigable link to the Erie Canal. This waterway enabled commerce to flow between Seneca and the Hudson River and soon became an economic engine that brought wealth and prosperity to the City of Geneva and other municipalities along its path. Eventually supplanted by rail and truck transportation, this channel was abandoned in the 1920s and ultimately filled in.”
The boating museum reached agreement with the City of Geneva last fall to establish a permanent home on the Geneva waterfront in association with the Visitor Center. The facility, which will be located on the current Chamber site, is being enabled by a $3.5 million grant provided to the city by State Sen. Michael Nozzolio.
The boating museum has assembled a collection of 100 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. The collection is being moved to a storage facility in the Geneva Enterprise Development Center on North Genesee Street arranged by the Geneva Industrial Development Authority.
Portions of the collection will be displayed on a rotating basis within the new facility. Also planned are interactive workshops and displays to engage visitors in the design, construction and use of the boats and an active on-water program including sailing and small boat handling.
The boating museum is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1997 to “research, document, preserve and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region.”
Additional information about the boating museum may be found on its website.
The canal schooner Lois McClure, whose homeport is Lake Champlain, is making a 1,000-mile journey across New York’s canals as it stops in 20 ports of call. The tour will culminate in September with a trip to the World Canals Conference in Rochester. The schooner also stopped in Geneva in 2007 on a similar tour.
The expedition is made possible by a partnership between the New York State Canal Corporation, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership. This voyage is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the region’s interconnected waterways and the many activities found along the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, highlighting the Canal System’s roles in transportation, recreation and tourism. Tours of the boat with interpretive presentations, wayside exhibits and educational materials will be provided free of charge to the public at each stop.
The schooner is a full-scale replica of an 1862 sailing canal boat. Constructed in Burlington, Vt., and launched in 2004, the Lois McClure is an exact replica of canal schooners found shipwrecked in the waters of Lake Champlain. The unique sailing-canal boats were the tractor-trailers of the 19th century, designed to sail from lake cities to canal ports using wind power. Upon reaching a canal, the masts were lowered and centerboards raised, transforming the vessel into a typical canal boat.
The schooner is named for Lois McClure, who was born in 1926 and grew up in Burlington, Vt. In 1954, McClure married James Warren McClure, an owner and publisher of the Burlington Free Press, and later a major stockholder and Vice President of the Gannett Company, Inc. In 1971, the McClures left Burlington for Rochester, where Lois McClure continued her education. In 1978, after J. Warren McClure retired, they moved to Key Largo, Fla., spending summers in Charlotte, until they returned to Vermont in 2002.
In the 1970s, the McClures began to make significant financial contributions to organizations in the Burlington area and elsewhere. After her husband became ill in the 1990s, Lois McClure took on the leadership role in their philanthropy, a role she has continued since her husband’s death in 2004. The schooner was named in McClure’s honor for her major contribution to the schooner construction and support of many other community projects.
Photo: Bill Oben (left), president of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, presents Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein with a copy of the historical marker that the boating museum donated to the city to mark the entrance to the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. In the background is the Lois McClure, a replica of a canal boat that stopped in Geneva on a tour of New York State canal waterways.
On Thursday, the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to select Keuka Lake State Park in Yates County as the future home of the Finger Lakes Museum. The vote was unanimous with one abstention.
After nearly a year of evaluating 19 sites that were originally submitted, the Site Selection Committee, under the direction of chairman Don Naetzker, recommended two sites for the Board’s consideration: Seneca Lake State Park in and adjacent to the City of Geneva, and Keuka Lake State Park near Branchport.
The idea to create a museum to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological history of the 9,000 square-mile Finger Lakes Region was first floated in a Life in the Finger Lakes magazine article by John Adamski in March 2008.
After enlisting ConsultEcon Inc., a Bostonbased market research firm in March, it was determined that the project is viable at either site although for different reasons. Board president, John Adamski added, “While the Seneca Lake site has significant advantages like a central location, the Board determined that the Keuka Lake site more closely met the requirements that were originally established in the Strategic Plan, especially as they relate to natural history programming.”
Among the advantages that he said tipped the scales in favor of the Keuka Lake site are the following:
• There is 700 feet of intimate lakefront with a level, sandy beach.
• The natural history element of the project is predicted to draw the most visitors. The rolling, hilly terrain, ravines, brook, woods, and areas of natural succession that exist there are ideal for wildlife exhibits in natural habitats.
• Several hundred acres of land are available for wildlife habitats and interpretive use—now or in the future.
• A 350-car paved parking lot already exists.
• Keuka College has offered to add Museum Sciences to its curriculum
and become a partner in the educational aspect of the Museum.
• Yates County and Keukaarea business leaders have pledged over $2 million in start-up funding.
In addition, Adamski said, “The Branchport Elementary School, which is presently vacant, has been purchased by the Finger Lakes Visitors Association for use as the Museum’s base of operation during the project’s start-up phases. The building will provide 15,000 square feet for business offices and initial programming as well as storage for the acquisition of artifacts and collections.” Its 13-acre site provides navigable water access to Keuka Lake.
He also stated, “Finger Lakes State Parks and the Finger Lakes Museum Project will undertake a joint master plan for the entire 620acre park. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation has been very cooperative and enthused over the proposal and we look forward to working with them to bring the project to fruition.”
Although the Museum will be built on lands leased from Finger Lakes State Parks, it will remain a privately-owned and mostly privately-funded not-for-profit educational institution.
First there were nineteen. Then there were five. Now there are two. John Adamski, president of the Board of Trustees of the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum, said today that the Site Selection Committee has referred two sites to the board for further assessment. They are the Geneva/Seneca Lake State Park site along the lakefront in Geneva and Keuka Lake State Park near Branchport in Yates County. Both sites offer lake frontage.
No longer in contention is the Bush Farm in Ledyard, the Wells College campus in Aurora, and Sampson State Park in Romulus. Sponsors of those sites were informed of the decision last Friday and in a show of commitment and dedication, each pledged to continue supporting the project.
Adamski said that a great deal of effort was put into proposals from the five site sponsors and that each had to be fairly evaluated. Site selection committee members logged more than 150 hours in multiple site visits, committee meetings, and deliberations, not to mention the uncounted miles that were driven.
The committee has asked the board to consider a comparative marketing study to help determine which of the two remaining sites would be the most viable due to concerns for the long-range economic stability of the project based on its location.
Adamski said, “The advantage that the Geneva site has is its central location, which is close to the Thruway and halfway between Rochester and Syracuse. The benefit of the Keuka Lake site is its intimate lakefront and wilder setting, which is more conducive to outdoor wildlife exhibits.” Plans call for natural habitats to showcase native wild animals such as bald eagles, beavers, black bears, coyotes, foxes, otters, and the unique Seneca White Deer.
The proposed $40 million Finger Lakes Museum is planned to be primarily funded by private donations and corporate grants. A committee is currently working on a fundraising program.
The Board of Directors of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in Geneva, NY has established a Site Development Committee and are moving forward with ambitous plans for a facility to research, document, preserve, and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region. The Museum reached agreement with the City of Geneva last fall to establish a permanent home on the Geneva waterfront in association with the Visitor Center. The facility will be located on the current Chamber of Commerce site. The Museum anticipates occupying approximately 20,000 square feet of space initially, with future expansion on the lakefront and off-site eventually growing to approximately 60,000 square feet of space.
Newly elected board president Bill Oben said the Museum has assembled a collection of more than 90 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. Portions of the collection will be displayed on a rotating basis within the new facility. Also planned are interactive workshops and displays to engage visitors in the design, construction and use of the boats and an active on-water program including sailing and small boat handling.
The board also elected a new slate of officers and appointed four new directors at its January 4th. The officers for 2010 are Bill Oben as President, Ed Wightman as Vice President, Bill Smith as Secretary and Dennis Karalow as Treasurer. The new directors are Chrissy Bennett-West, Dave Bunnell, Vince Scalise and Bruce Tuxill.
Bennett-West is a Geneva native and a graduate of William Smith College. A long-time member of the Seneca Yacht Club, she sails Thistles and serves on the Executive Board as Vice Commodore. She and her husband live in Canandaigua where she is employed as a Special Education teacher in the Canandaigua School System.
Dave Bunnell relocated to Geneva following a 40-year career in law and business. He has practiced law with two commercial law firms in Dallas, Texas, served in senior management positions with international food companies, and engaged in various entrepreneurial activities. He is currently involved with others in efforts to accelerate the revitalization of downtown Geneva. He serves on the Boards of Geneva Growth, the Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council and the Business Improvement District.
Vince Scalise, a Geneva native and Korean War veteran, retired as Superintendent of the Geneva City School System. He has served on numerous boards including Cayuga-Seneca Canalway Trail Association, YMCA, Geneva Growth, Geneva Historical Society, United Way of Rochester and Ontario County, the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce, and the FL Cultural & Natural History Museum. He has also served on the Geneva City Council.
Bruce Tuxill returned to his native Geneva in 2008 following a 40-year career in the Air Force and Air National Guard. At the time of his retirement he was serving as the Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard. He is currently the President of the Tuxill Group, which provides consulting service for federal, state and local officials in the areas of national defense and homeland security. He currently serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Geneva and the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church.
Bill Oben, is a founding trustee who has served as president of the 300-member Museum since 2007, commented that the organization is “excited about establishing a permanent home for the museum on the Geneva waterfront. We intend to create a world class facility highlighting the boating heritage of the Finger Lakes region,” Oben said.
The Board of Trustees of the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum have officially closed the site submission process. Nineteen potential building sites were proposed by seven Finger Lakes Region counties and the City of Geneva before the deadline of July 15th.
Counties that submitted proposals include Cayuga, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates. The City of Geneva is partnering with Seneca County on a site that straddles the Ontario/Seneca county line at the north end of Seneca Lake.
The deadline, which had been originally set for June 15th, was extended by the board for 30 days to give some counties more time to complete title searches. The sites are now being toured and evaluated by the project’s Site Selection Committee.
A question arose concerning a 20th site being added to the list when a landowner inquired about submitting a parcel in Ontario County. The board considered the inquiry but determined that the deadline should be upheld in fairness to the counties that worked hard to make submissions on time, according to a press release issued last week. The landowner is not being identified.
The search for a building site has ramped up the level of excitement for the initiative to develop a cultural and natural history museum to showcase the 9,000 square-mile Finger Lakes Region.
To coincide with Women’s History Month, the National Women’s Hall of Fame announces its 2009 Inductees. Included in the group of ten outstanding American women are world-renowned artist Louise Bourgeois, biochemist Dr. Mildred Cohn, attorney and women’s rights activist Karen DeCrow, domestic violence advocate Susan Kelly-Dreiss, attorney and social justice activist Dr. Allie B. Latimer, ecologist and limnologist Dr. Ruth Patrick, and atmospheric scientist Dr. Susan Solomon. These women, along with three historic figures, will be inducted during a weekend of celebration to be held in Seneca Falls, New York on October 10-11, 2009. Seneca Falls was the location of the first women’s rights convention, held in 1848. The event began a 72-year struggle for women’s suffrage. [Read more…] about Ten Named to National Women’s Hall of Fame
Tim Stafford over at Books and Culture, has reviewed Sally McMillen’s new book Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement. He kicks it off with a revealing story about the place of women’s history among leading historians:
“Chatting casually with historian James McPherson, Davidson professor Sally McMillen learned that he was co-editing a series called Pivotal Moments in American History. “Surprised by what I did not hear, I responded, ‘But you have nothing on women!’ He looked at me and asked, ‘Do you have any ideas?’ ‘Well, as a start,’ I answered, ‘Seneca Falls.'” [Read more…] about A New Book on Seneca Falls and Women’s Rights