The Finger Lakes Boating Museum, which features more than 160 boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past century, expects to open a new boat restoration center next summer.
Andrew Tomkins, museum executive director, said the boat restoration center will be located in a currently vacant 16,000-square-foot building on Pleasant Valley Road, across the street from the main building of the Boating Museum.
“The building has a new roof on it and we’re currently cleaning it out and getting it ready to accept boats,” Tomkins says. “We’re going to widen the garage doors and do some other things to the building to get it ready by next summer.”
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum, founded in 1997, opened at its new Hammondsport location, 8231 Pleasant Valley Road, an old Taylor Winery Company building, June 2014.
Tomkins said the 33,000-square-foot large permanent home is a place that allows the collection to be displayed, along with artifacts and exhibits that tell the history of boating in the Finger Lakes.
“We have all kinds of boats, we have inboard, outboard, canoes, rowboats, (often called trout boats), ice boats, small racing boats, launches,” Tomkins says. “So we have pretty much a mix of everything here. All the boats in the collection were produced locally.”
Tomkins says during the last school semester, more than 500 students, elementary to the sixth grade, had toured the Boating Museum since it moved to its new main building location, constructed in 1886.
“It’s been great and we expect even more students next semester,” Tomkins says.
Tomkins says since the opening at the new location, about 7,000 people toured the Boating Museum from 47 states and 11 foreign countries.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the admission fee is $7 for adults, free for children.
The Boating Museum lost its rent-free storage building in Geneva, but Mercury Aircraft stepped up and offered one of its vacant buildings in Hammondsport. The building was part of the old Taylor Wine Company, later acquired by Mercury Aircraft.
Tomkins says the 14-acre site, has 19 buildings of various shapes and sizes.
“We don’t want to be known as a Hammondsport Museum,” Tomkins says. “We want to be known as a Finger Lakes Museum. So we try to make a presence on all the Finger Lakes.”
A free lecture series on Steamboats in the Finger Lakes will be held Nov. 17, at the Seneca Falls Historical Society.
Boating in the Finger Lakes has a long history, from carrying passengers to fishing and recreation, Tomkins said.
There were four major boat manufacturers in the Finger Lakes - Penn Yan, Thompson, Morehouse, and Skaneateles - and dozens of smaller boat companies. All of the boat companies are gone today.