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Cupola project progresses with site selection ADVERTISEMENT

Cupola project progresses with site selection

PENN YAN--One could imagine that in the late 1800s, steamboats traveling on Keuka Lake looked north to the Empire State Winery, which was one of the first wineries in Yates County, and could see the building's cupola as a beacon to the Keuka Outlet.
"The winery would have shipped grapes and wines by steamboat at that time," said Marsha Devine, county treasurer and secretary of the initiative's board of directors, noting that the location of the winery offered a clear view of the waterway. Devine made a presentation about the cupola at a recent Yates County legislature meeting.
This history - and a desire to make sure future generations and tourists have access to it - is at the root of an effort to restore the cupola in Penn Yan. The winery itself was demolished in the late 1980s, but a group of passionate residents and local leaders coalesced to save the cupola. In 2013, they formed a corporation, which is led by Board President Steve Knapp, and the restoration initiative is gaining steam.
According to Devine, architects have examined the cupola - which is approximately 10' by 10'. They have determined, she said, that 70 percent can be maintained and 30 percent will need to be restored. In addition, a new home has been identified for the cupola: along the Keuka Outlet Trail in the area referred to as the Angler Boat Park, just south of the footbridge and can be seen from Liberty and Water Streets. The project has also received support from village and county leaders, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the school district.
"This is an icon," said Devine. "It speaks to the education and history of our area, including our connection to wine, steamboats, the basket industry, and canal shipping in the late 1800s. We hope it becomes part of the school's curriculum as it tells the story of the industriousness of the people who settled here and the possibilities for the future."
Steve Knapp, president of the Cupola Restoration Project, feels great relief, "Any grant process we have looked at wants to know if our town supports the project. With the letters of support from the village of Penn Yan and the county, we are in great shape to begin fundraising in earnest. This is wonderful!"
The project is currently funded with a grant from the Yates County Community Endowment Fund, which helped with planning and developing the schematics to keep the cupola intact while it was moved to its current location and placed on a cement pad. Board members expect to seek additional grants from county, state, and community organizations and hope to secure private support as well. The total cost for the project is estimated to be $150,000.
Up next: conducting an engineering study and releasing a request for proposals for construction. Devine also indicated that members of the board are happy to attend community meetings to explain more about the project.
Follow the progress on Facebook on the "Saving the Empire State Winery Cupola" page. Donations may be sent to: The Cupola Project P.O. Box 676 Penn Yan, NY 14527.

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