Boating museum gets a new home
URBANA—The Finger Lakes Boating Museum has found a new home and will be moving to the former Taylor Wine Company buildings just south of the village of Hammondsport.
Mercury Aircraft, which has operated in Hammondsport since 1927, will donate the 14-acre Taylor Wine Company complex of buildings located on Pleasant Valley Road to the museum. The president of Mercury, J. F. “Bud” Meade Ill, said, “When the Finger Lakes Boating Museum approached us this past spring, with an urgent need for storage space for their collection, Mercury was very happy to help them out.”
Mercury’s donation of property includes the 30,000-square foot storage building (on Germania Road) where the museum’s collection of boats and related artifacts is now housed. The main building of the former wine company is also included and served as Taylor headquarters with a fourstory building and some additional 32,000 square feet.
Mercury has subdivided this property from its larger holdings and the museum is in the process of applying to the town of Urbana planning board for a use change from winemaking to a museum.
“We are excited to be working on the permanent home for the museum,” said Ed Wightman, president of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum board of trustees. “We enthusiastically look forward to being an effective and worthy part of the community.”
Mercury Aircraft acquired the Taylor Winery complex in 1995 for the purposes of moving its own manufacturing operations from outpost sites into one centralized location. Mercury took ownership of the buildings on the Taylor portion of the site and began manufacturing in the buildings below County Route 88 (Pleasant Valley Road). Meade said, “We never had any real plans for the Taylor buildings that resided on the upper side of County Route 88 other than some storage and small usage of some of the office building.”
The boating museum also plans to make an application to the town of Urbana for lakefront presence and to use in the town-owned Champlin Beach at the head of Keuka Lake.
Wightman explained that the boating museum began looking for new potential sites after withdrawing from a partnership with the city of Geneva in late 2012 when the museum board came to the realization the city did not intend to continue with the museum project. The board approved going ahead with the Hammondsport project at their Oct. 8 meeting.
Wightman and Meade met Thursday, Oct. 24, at the site to formalize the exciting development for the museum. Wightman conveyed to Meade a letter from the museum board of trustees confirming the board’s acceptance of Mercury’s offer. “The trustees extend to you (Meade) their sincerest appreciation for your generosity in making this property and its buildings available to the museum,” the letter stated.
The boating museum has assembled a collection of more than 100 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes during the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. Education, restoration and preservation are the key elements of the museum’s mission.
The boating museum is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1997 to “research, document, preserve and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region.”
For more, contact the museum at 607-794-4567 or www.flbm.org.