by Susan Zehnder, Education Director
This summer we were asked a number of questions that inspired new discoveries, more questions, a couple of laughs, and even a possible ghost story. Who asked these questions? One of the seventy participants who accompanied us on one of our nine Walking Tours this summer. We’ve finished our tours for the season, and met people from out of state, and others whose families have lived here for generations. Either way, everyone now knows a little more about the area’s architectural details, hidden stories, and some frisky gossip.
Here are some highlights, in case you missed them. Our Architectural Tour of Maple Avenue was led by archivist Rachel Dworkin who walked and talked pointing out examples of architectural house styles through the years. If you’re a regular to this blog, you’ll see a more comprehensive explanation of what she shared in the previous two blogs.
Our Historic Tours started at the museum, using the bank building as a time marker. The Chemung Canal Bank was built in 1834, designed by architect Ammon Beardsly. The structure is the oldest commercial building in the city and today houses the Historical Society and History Museum. Over the next hour the tour passed other buildings along Lake Street, heading north to Church Street, west to Baldwin Street, south to Water Street and after passing the distinctive 1971 Chemung Canal Trust Company Bank we looped back to the museum. Along the way we mentioned over 23 different blogs we’ve written with connections to history. It might be true stories about the buildings, streets, or people that lived in the area and the topics we covered were as diverse as 19th century billiards to 20th century smut. We’ve always said we don’t have a blog about the Adult Book Store on Lake…..yet. Perhaps this mention counts?
Our third tour was a fun 1913 Gossip Tour which also lasted an hour. Here our curator Erin Doane walked a similar route to the historic version, but shared stories that were darker, and a bit more titillating. You’ll have to join us next year if you want to hear those. A bonus to her tour, Erin wore a vintage dress for the stroll. She also wore a hat she claimed she bought in the Amazon, or was that on Amazon? Her stories were the rumors and gossip of the day. Who thought Lake Street would have so many murders, hangings, or surprised mistresses over the years.
Our summer Walking Tours have come to a close. We’re busy getting ready for a different kind of walk - our 15th annual Ghost Walk around Woodlawn Cemetery. We’re excited to offer three different options this year over three different days and tickets are going quickly. If a historic cemetery walk at dusk or in the dark interests you, check out the details on our website today.
We enjoyed ourselves leading the walks, and were so pleased to hear others did too. We were also lucky with the weather for 8 of the 9 tours. The last one took place in drenching rain, which was maybe a fitting end to the season.