December 09, 2008


Museum hopes for ’10 opening

Living History Museum pushes date back one year as it seeks money

BrockwayBob Ellis/staff photographer
Two old Brockway trucks along with an Army jeep from the late Ken Eaton’s Homeville Museum collection are parked inside the facility that will eventually house the Brockway Museum and the Living History Museum.

Staff reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — A year after securing a charter, a local museum has delayed its opening a year until 2010 and still needs to raise about $2 million for the estimated $5 million project.
When completed, the Central New York Living History Museum will include two display rooms of more than 10,000 square feet for Brockway Trucks and the late Ken Eaton’s Homeville antique military and rail history collection.
The museum would be located in the former A.B. Brown building on Route 11 between Cortland and Homer.
Every other weekend, a team of 50 volunteers has worked a total of more than 3,000 hours ripping deteriorated panels from the buildings’ walls and ceiling and recently began construction on two second-floor bathrooms.
“So far, our progress has been slow but steady,” said Hugh Riehlman, the chairman of the Homer/Cortland Community Agency, the group overseeing development of the project. “But we need to just keep working on it.”
Originally, the museum had planned to open in 2009, and Riehlman said 2010 would be a more practical goal.
This summer, two bathrooms were completed on the building’s ground floor through a $50,000 member item from state Sen. Jim Seward’s office.
Next spring, work will begin installing a heating system donated by the Eaton family and replacing a roof for the Homeville Museum display using another $100,000 grant from Seward’s office.
Bill Breidinger, the Homer/Cortland Community executive director, said the organization is asking local groups and residents to donate to a capital campaign for the museum.
“A lot of people have been very generous,” Breidinger said, noting a $7,500 recent grant from the Cortland Community Foundation would most likely be used to remodel the building’s lobby.
So far, the group has raised about $600,000 through private donations, Riehlman said.
The state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation should soon announce whether the museum will be granted funds to build a deck and pavilion by the riverfront, and the local organizers will also apply for about a dozen state grants, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, by the end of the year.
“The state seems to be holding back on announcing new grants, given the economic crisis,” Breidinger said. “It’ll also be interesting to see what comes out of (Barack) Obama’s administration, given that he’s been promising a lot of money for infrastructure changes.”
In 2009, Breidinger said between $600,000 and $2 million needs to be raised for installing more insulation and replacing windows, along with constructing exhibits and interior walls.
“Even with the (poor) economy, (raising the money) is possible,” Breidinger added. “The funding is out there.”
In addition to the Brockway trucks and Homeville collection, the museum would contain memorabilia from the Brockway Motor Truck Co., an exhibit of antique clocks made in Central New York from the 1820s through the 1850s, and antique fire trucks refurbished by Mahlon Irish of Homer.
The museum would also have a gift shop in the front lobby and an 84-seat media center on the first floor to show videos and make educational presentations.
Visitors could also enjoy the view of the river from a deck at the rear of the building.
Mainly, the museum would be used for educational purposes, and the location along Interstate 81 would help attract tourists, Riehlman said.
“We’re also hoping to get a lot of schools that come here with busloads of kids,” he added.


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