Courtesy of The Tompkins Center for History and Culture

A rendering shows the vision for the center's new location in The Commons.

July 12, 2018

Tompkins Center for History and Culture Hopes for Increased Visibility with Shift to New Location

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The Tompkins Center for History and Culture hosted a kick-off ceremony last Monday to celebrate its move from 401 East State Street to a complex on North Tioga Street. The center hopes the shift to the Ithaca Commons will help increase their visibility.

The renovated space, previously owned by the Tompkins Trust Company, will not only house the current History Center in Tompkins County. It will also operate in conjunction with the Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wharton Studio Museum, Historic Ithaca, the Community Arts Partnership, the Dorothy Cotton Institute, the Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation and Discovery Trail.

Rod Howe, executive director of The History Center in Tompkins County, told The Sun that the move to a shared location represents a chance for the center to become much more “dynamic.”

“We see it as an opportunity to more fully play out our mission of being a generation-to-generation local history education and research center,” Howe said, noting the possibility to serve both county residents and outside visitors.

Furthermore, Howe discussed the potential of the new center to attract both locals and visitors.

“I think there will be this great sense of pride in the Tompkins Center for History and Culture,” he continued. “[And] for visitors who are coming in, it will be a great place to orient them to what they might go out and visit during their stay [in Ithaca].”

Howe said he has high hopes for the new center, noting that the location would allow the center to be much more visible.

“We’re excited that we will be able to have other partners, because then it starts to really make it a destination, where folks will hear about the Tompkins Center for History and Culture and want to come there for any number of reasons,” Howe said. “It’s really coming together in a nice package.”

The board of the History Center began considering a move in the spring of 2015 since the lease for the old center was slated to expire at the end of 2018, according to Howe. Approximately 30,000 visitors to the center are expected in 2019, according to the History Center.

Construction on the center is is scheduled to begin within the next couple of weeks, and work to bring the building up to code has already commenced, according to Howe.

Although Howe said they hoped to move in by the end of 2018, he admitted that construction “might have to spill over a little bit into 2019.”