Cayuga Museum’s Book Club Selections

Members of the Cayuga Museum’s History Book Club met recently to choose books for the next six months. The History Book Club meets on the first Thursday of the month, at 7:00 p.m., at the Museum. Members discuss non-fiction works of history on local, national and global themes. Participation is free and readers can choose to attend any or all of the monthly meetings.

June 2: 1861 by Adam Goodheart
Like many of the best works of history, 1861 creates the uncanny illusion that the reader has stepped into a time machine…Goodheart’s version is at once more panoramic and more intimate than most standard accounts, and more inspiring. This is fundamentally a history of hearts and minds, rather than of legislative bills and battles.

July 7: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne
Gwynne doesn’t merely retell the story of Parker’s life. He pulls his readers through an American frontier roiling with extreme violence, political intrigue, bravery, anguish, corruption, love, knives, rifles and arrows. Lots and lots of arrows.

August 4: There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America by Philip Dray
An epic, character-driven narrative that locates this struggle for security and dignity in all its various settings: on picket lines and in union halls, jails, assembly lines, corporate boardrooms, the courts, the halls of Congress, and the White House. The author demonstrates the urgency of the fight for fairness and economic democracy—a struggle that remains especially urgent today, when ordinary Americans are so anxious and beset by eco­nomic woes.

September 1: Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes an eye-opening turn in the South, where his childhood obsession with the Confederacy collides with hard adult realities about race and culture in America. Returning home after a decade spent covering foreign wars, he launches a year-long ramble through the landscape of the Civil War, traveling from Virginia to Alabama in search of explanations for his (and America’s) continuing interest in the conflict.

October 6: Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David von Drehle.
Explains the sociopolitical context in which the fire occurred and the subsequent successful push for industry reforms. A fascinating, meticulously documented account of a crucial period in U.S. history.

November 3: Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History But Never Learned by Kenneth C. Davis
From the arrival of Columbus through the bizarre election of 2000 and beyond, Davis carries readers on a rollicking ride through more than 500 years of American history. In this updated edition of the classic anti-textbook, he debunks, recounts, and serves up the real story behind the myths and fallacies of American history.

Note: Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Cost of Freedom: Cayuga County and the Civil War

In recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, the Cayuga Museum will present The Cost of Freedom: Cayuga County and the Civil War. The secession of the southern states and outbreak of the Civil War in 1860-61 was the culmination of decades of disagreement over issues of slavery, trade and tariffs, and the doctrine of State’s rights. Over the next four years, communities in Cayuga County contributed their time, resources, and even their lives to preserve the Union and create a new freedom in the United States, one which reshaped the constitution and forever changed the way we define liberty, patriotism and the nation.

The Cost of Freedom explores the Civil War as experienced by citizens of Cayuga County, both on the front lines and at home. This exhibit will feature the Museum’s unique Civil War collection including the hand illustrated maps of General John S. Clark and letters written by various soldiers from throughout the county. The exhibit will profile local men and women vital to the war effort and reconstruction including Emily Howland and William Wise, one of the first African American soldiers in the Country. Additionally The Cost of Freedom will highlight the contributions of those on the home front from the Ladies Union Aid Society to the construction of The Home. The exhibit will open to the public May 14 and run through September 4, 2011.

In partnership with this exhibit the Museum has planned a series of lectures about the Civil War. On July 10, Robert W. Arnold III, will present “Let Loose the Dogs of War, New York in the American Civil War.” On August 21, Dr. Laura Free will present “Bullets, Belles, and Bloated Bodies: The Civil War in American Popular Culture and Memory.” Other events will be announced through the summer.

Photo:A reunion of Cayuga County Civil War veterans. Courtesy Cayuga Museum.

Cayuga Museum Celebrating 75 Years

2011 is the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Cayuga Museum of History and Art. The Museum’s celebration kicks off with a gala dinner dance at the Holiday Inn in Auburn, NY on Saturday, May 7.

The Cayuga Museum opened its doors in the former Willard-Case Mansion on October 16, 1936. It was the culmination of a vision by founding director Walter Long, an art professor at Syracuse University, and representatives of many of the leading families of Auburn, to create a permanent home for the arts in Cayuga County.

The Museum was started with four divisions: Art, History, Industry and Children’s Activities. These four divisions have given rise to other great arts institutions in our community. The Merry-go-Round Playhouse started in the Children’s division of the Cayuga Museum- and the Art division was critical in the founding of the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center. Over the years, the Cayuga Museum has played a vital role in celebrating, preserving, and defining the history and culture of our area. Tens of thousands of people have visited the Museum exhibits- and thousands of families and businesses have donated objects to the Museum collection.

The Museum is coming full circle back to its earliest years, when the mansion’s carriage house was transformed into a community theater through a collaboration between the museum and the Community Players. Known then as the Cayuga Museum Annex, the theater was a popular venue for a variety of programs from the early 40’s through the early 70’s. Used primarily for storage for the past several decades, the carriage house is presently undergoing a major restoration that will return it to life. The second floor sound studio, where Theodore Case filmed some of the world’s first sound movies, will be open to the public for the first time. The main floor theater will be available for shows, concerts, and parties year ‘round, as well as being one of the venues of the summer Musical Theater Festival.

The Museum’s 75th Anniversary Dinner kicks off a celebration of this important milestone. The dinner will be May 7, at the Holiday Inn. Guests can dine on filet mignon, crab-stuffed sole or stuffed Portobello mushroom, and dance to the music of the Soul Traders. Tickets are $75 each and benefit the Museum’s operating fund.

This Fall, the Museum will host an exhibit on its own 75 years in the community, from the earliest discussions about creating a museum to the present, and showcasing treasures from the Museum collection. The Museum is asking the public to share their own memories or photographs of the Museum over the years. To reserve tickets to the dinner, or to share your memories, call the Museum at 253-8051.

Auburn Founders Day Committee Seeks Input

The committee in charge of Auburn’s Founders Day festival is asking the public for input on themes for future celebrations. Founders Day is an annual festival held in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, focusing each year on an influential person or institution from the area. The day’s celebration offers speakers, entertainment, vendors, artists, shopping, food and refreshments in an atmosphere of fun for the entire family.

Founders Day began in 2009, as a way of bringing attention to Auburn’s rich historical legacy. The 2009 festival focused on William Seward, and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin was the guest of honor. Last year’s festival celebrated the work of Theodore Case, Auburn’s native son who made talking movies possible. The 2011 Founders Days was going to celebrate the work of Harriet Tubman, but the committee decided to wait until 2013, the 100th anniversary of her death, to focus on Tubman.

This year’s Founders Day, scheduled for Saturday, August 13, will celebrate History on Wheels. Auburn’s Antique Car Club will be the focus- more than 50 other car clubs have been invited to participate. Hundreds of vintage cars will line the streets of downtown, while live bands, food vendors, artisan crafters and children’s activities entertain visitors.

The Founders Day committee is looking for ideas on which individuals or institutions to celebrate in future years. “Founders Day is in its infancy,” said this year’s co-chair Eileen McHugh, “and we intend for it to get bigger and better every year. Someday, Founders Day can be for Auburn what Harborfest is for Oswego. We’re planning now for the next several years. And we want suggestions from the community.”

Whom do you think should be celebrated on Founders Day? The committee has settled on Harriet Tubman for 2013, but needs a theme for 2012 and beyond. Send your idea, along with a brief statement of why that person or organization should be celebrated, to the Founders Day Committee at Downtown Auburn BID. Phone in your suggestion at 252-7874, drop it off in person at 128 Genesee St., or email [email protected]

Cayuga Museum Film Fest Seeks Entrants

The 2011 Theodore Case Film Festival seeks entrants. Auburn’s only home-grown film festival honors the work of sound film pioneer Theodore Case and his Case Research Laboratory. Its mission is to further the experimental legacy of the Case Lab by promoting original visual media in Central New York. Festival organizers are actively seeking entries, spreading the word in movie houses, colleges, high schools and middle schools throughout Central New York. The work of area student and adult filmmakers will be screened at the Auburn Public Theater on June 10 and 11. The theater is on Genesee Street in downtown Auburn, the city which is proud to proclaim itself “The Birthplace of Talking Movies.”

Central New York residents are invited to submit their recent work (post January 2009) of thirty minutes or less. Entries should be on DVD. Entry forms may be picked up at the Cayuga Museum, 203 Genesee St., in Auburn, or downloaded from either the Theodore Case Film Festival’s website or the Museum’s website. Work in all genres is welcome and there is no entry fee. Deadline for entries is May 2, 2011.

Auburn Joins Arts, Culture, Economic Impact Study

Auburn, New York’s Historic and Cultural Sites Commission has announced it has joined Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, a national research study being conducted by Americans for the Arts. The study will evaluate the impact spending by nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences have on their local economies.

According to Americans for the Arts most recent national study, the national nonprofit arts industry generated 5.7 million jobs and $166.2 billion in total economic activity during 2005, resulting in $29.6 billion in federal, state and local government revenues.

By collecting detailed financial information from all of Auburn’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations, and surveying hundreds of audience members at cultural events throughout the city, the Historic and Cultural Sites Commission will produce hard date about what the arts bring to the local economy.

Specifically, the study’s results will include:

* The total dollars spent by Auburn’s nonprofit arts organizations.
* The total dollars spent by audiences as a direct result of their attendance at cultural events in the city.
* The number of full-time equivalent jobs supported by arts spending.
* The amount of local household income generated by arts spending.
* The amount of local and state government tax revenues generated by arts spending.

“All of us involved in the arts in Auburn know that we have an economic impact on the city. This survey will give us the figures to prove it. We need real dollars-and-cents figures to make our case about why the arts matter,” said Eileen McHugh, Executive Director of the Cayuga Museum. The survey will be conducted through 2011, and the final report, specific to Auburn, will be available in March 2012.

“From a tourism perspective, arts and culture form a community’s image and set it apart, creating visitor anticipation and excitement. We know this study will show the economic importance of our rich cultural heritage and we hope it will garner the support that the arts deserve,” said Meg Vanek, executive director of the Cayuga County Office of Tourism.

Auburn’s Historic and Cultural Sites Commission is a collaborative organization whose purpose is to position Auburn as the destination of choice in the Finger Lakes through support and promotion of its history and culture.

Boating Museum Donates Important Canal Marker

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.

Golf Tournament to Benefit the Cayuga Museum

The Cayuga Museum will host its first ever golf outing on Sunday, September 19, 2010 at the Highland Golf Club. This is an added event to help with the severe financial challenges the Museum is facing this year. To register, sponsor a hole or for more information call 253-8051.

This will be a 4-person scramble with a shotgun start at 1:00 PM. The cost is $75 per person, which includes 18 holes of golf, cart, cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. We are also selling hole sponsorships at $100 per hole. Entry fees and sponsorships should be sent to the Cayuga Museum at 203 Genesee St, Auburn, NY 13021. The deadline for entries and sponsorships is September 3, 2010.

Bar-B-Cayuga to Benefit Cayuga Museum

Food catered by Balloon’s Restaurant and music by The Flying Column will be the main attractions for this 4th Annual Cayuga Museum of History and Art barbecue fundraiser to be held on Sunday, August 15th from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Deauville Island Shelter at Emerson Park in Auburn, NY. Tickets are only $25 per person for adults and $15 for children under 10 years. Tickets are available by advance sale only.

To purchase tickets, visit, call or send a check to the Cayuga Museum, 203 Genesee St., Auburn, NY. 13021. Tickets are also available at www.cayuganet.org/cayugamuseum. No ticket will be sold after August 9th. For more information, contact Museum staff at (315) 253-8051.

History Groups Among Recipients of Canal Grants

The New York State Canal Corporation has announced the recipients of the 2010 Canal Corporation Tourism Matching Grant Awards Program and the list includes several public history organizations. A total of $30,000 is being awarded to a total of 16 projects for local and regional initiatives to promote the New York State Canal System and Canalway Trail as a year-round recreational resource and tourism destination. A full list of the 2010 grant recipients is below, but it includes the Niagara County Historical Society, Schenectady Heritage Area, and Historic Palmyra among other groups whose goals include historical tourism.

The grant program was open to designated Tourism Promotion Agencies (TPAs), Chambers of Commerce, Nonprofit organizations and canal communities in New York State for the development of Canal System promotional material consistent with regional themes set forth in the Canal Recreationway Plan and recommendations contained in the state’s &#8220A Report on the Future of New York State Canals&#8221.

The grants provide up to $2,500 for the development of promotional materials that promote the Canal System and/or Canalway Trail, or specific Canal-related events, festivals or attractions.

Special consideration was given this year to applications that involved collaborative partnerships among several TPAs and/or private industry to create multi-county, regional thematic canal destinations and self-guided tours consistent with historical, cultural, urban and environmental assets and attractions contained along or within the Canal System and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Additionally, all awarded projects incorporated Canal Corporation logos and the New York Canal System’s promotional theme: &#8220Cruise the Past, Unlock the Adventure&#8221. Materials will be made available to the public at no charge.

The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture. For more information regarding events, recreational and vacation opportunities along the Canal System, visit www.nyscanals.gov or call 1-800-4CANAL4.

The New York State Canal Corporation is a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority (Authority). Since 1992, following State legislation transferring the Canal System from the New York State Department of Transportation to the Authority, Canal operating and maintenance activities have been supported by Thruway toll revenue.

2010 CANAL CORPORATION TOURISM MATCHING GRANTS (listed by Canal)

Agency Name – Contact – Grant Award

Canal System-wide

• Canal New York Marketing and Business Alliance, Inc., Victoria Daly, $2,500.00

Erie Canal

• Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition, Inc., Eric Hamilton, $2,500.00

• Schenectady Heritage Area, Maureen Gebert, $2,500.00

• Stockade Association, Lyn Gordon, $800.00

• U.S. Water Ski Show Team, Kara Pangburn, $2,000.00

• Town of Niskayuna, Lori Peretti, $500.00

• Historic Palmyra, Bonnie Hays, $1,050.00

• Fairport Village Partnership, Scott Winner, $2,500.00

• Niagara County Historical Society, Douglas Farley, $1,117.50

• Lockport Main Street, Inc., Heather Peck, $2,400.00

• Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas, Joyce Santiago, $2,500.00

Champlain Canal

• Lakes to Locks Passage, Inc., Janet Kennedy, $2,500.00

• Hudson Crossing Park, Inc., Marlene Bissell, $2,500.00

• Rensselaer County, Christine Golden, $1,427.84

Oswego Canal

• Oswego County Dept. of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, Janet Clerkin, $2,500.00

Cayuga Seneca Canal

• Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, Sarah Osterling, $700.00