Tompkins County’s History Center is a great place to explore the past, present, and future of the county. Located in the historic Tompkins Trust building in the heart of Ithaca, the center has exhibits, programs, and services to pique the curiosity of all ages.
The Center’s Exhibit Hall displays a changing selection of artifacts and memorabilia related to Tompkins County’s rich and varied history. The Center’s website also boasts a list of current and upcoming exhibitions. Among them, the Center’s latest exhibit, “The Making of an American City: Tompkins County 1870-1940”, tells the story of the county’s early growth from a frontier settlement to a modern day urban and suburban wonderland. During this era, the center’s first inhabitants included pioneers like Ezra Cornell, as well as the Chinese, Irish, Italian, Japanese, and German immigrants who helped shape the city into what it is today.
The Center’s research library and archives are also worth a visit. Their encyclopedia of local history offers a plethora of resources to help you trace your family tree. The best part is, the Library is open by appointment.
There are also several events and programs held at the Center each year. The Eight Square Schoolhouse is the site of one such event, and the History Center is home to the Tompkins County Museum. A living history program takes place there too. One of the most interesting aspects of the Museum is the collection of photographic gems taken by the Works Progress Administration during the heyday of the county’s industrial revolution. Another impressive feat is the collection of rare books.
Lastly, the Center’s reCOUNT display is a surprisingly cool piece of interactive art. With its plethora of electronic touchscreens, interactive displays, and video games, it is a perfect place to let the kids play in an environment devoted to learning. Not only is it fun for the kids, it is also a great way for parents to connect with their offspring. If you have kids, or are in the market for a new place to call home, check out the Tompkins County History Center.