June 13, 2011


History center opens doors

Central New York Living History Center hosts its first open house

CenterJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
From left, Tyler Holcomb, 13, of Homer along with Luela and Sanford Gay of Cortland view war mementos on display Saturday at the Central New York Living History Center open house.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Chip Jermy ushered people on a tour around the unfinished Central New York Living History Center, showing off the work of countless volunteers who have donated their time and money to the project.
Jermy, president of The Homeville Museum and a member of the Homer-Cortland Community Agency board that will run the more than 20,000-square-foot center on Route 11, was one of a handful of guides who gave tours at the center’s first open house Saturday.
The center features three main museums: the Brockway Truck Museum, the Tractors of Yesteryear for antique farming equipment, and the Homeville Museum.
The Homeville Museum essentially “fills in the gaps,” Jermy said. The displays, rotating every three months, will have pieces of local history from the collection of Ken Eaton, a Homer resident known for his military and railroad memorabilia.
There will also be a section for Eaton’s model trains, which Jermy said is a big hit for most kids.
Hugh Riehlman, vice president of the Brockway Truck Preservation Association and president of the Homer-Cortland Community Agency, said the open house showed visitors what was going on with the project and what has changed.
“We’ve had a good reception,” he said.
Cortland residents Charlie and Alice Barned said they were impressed with the project and how far it has come.
“We go by four times a week,” Alice said. “You see the progress — it’s really great.”
They said once it opens it should be a great tourist attraction for the area.
“I didn’t realize how much work they were doing,” Charlie said. “They have done a fantastic job.”
Shirley Randolph, the Brockway association’s president who is also treasurer of the Homer-Cortland Community Agency, said there was likely more people visiting than what was listed in the guest book — which had accumulated over 180 names by 12:30 p.m.
“Everyone’s excited about what’s going on,” she said.
Jermy, also past co-historian for the village of Homer, said the Brockway Truck portion of the center, which features various trucks from the former Brockway Motor Truck Co.., factory in Cortland could be open next year — on the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding.
Having a part of the center open could qualify the project for more grant funding, he said.
The project has cost about $1.2 million since work began on the former A.B. Brown department store just north of Cortland about five years ago, Jermy said, and an additional $1.2 million will likely be needed to finish.
Cortland residents Pat and Christopher Wood, along with their daughter Darby, took one of the tours with Jermy.
“I think it’s wonderful they are using an old building,” Pat said, adding how important it was to have something like this to preserve the rich heritage of the Cortland and Homer area.
Some of the antiques came from local residents such as Cortland’s Jerri Rote, who donated some tools her husband had accumulated over the years to the Tractors of Yesteryear.
“My husband never threw anything away,” she said.
Bud and Laurie Fisher, members of the Finger Lakes Antique Power Club, made the trip to the center from LaFayette and spoke about the friendship and camaraderie between the people who restore antique vehicles.
“It’s all about respect for old iron that made the world work ... and to restore it as a tribute,” he said. “It gives grandparents an opportunity to show what it was that makes life what it is today.”


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