25 Years of the FLBM
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum exists for the education and preservation of the boating activities and boat building heritage of the Finger Lakes.
1997 - 2014
The FLBM was granted its provisional charter, in December of 1997. This was the beginning of the FLBM.
2005 - 2007
The Museum was looking for a permanent home in Canandaigua, NY.
The FLBM was officially granted its 501 c(3) tax status. We officially became a non-profit organization
2007 - 2010
The Museum then looked at the [former] Penn Yan Boat Company Factory Building as a new home for the museum.
The FLBM hosted its first Boat Show on the Geneva, NY waterfront.
2010 - 2013
The Waterfront of Geneva, NY looked promising. The plan was to build a new property to house the museum.
[the property is now the Finger Lakes Welcome Center]
Our New Home
The total number of boats in the Museum collection was now more than 80 boats. These boats had been in Geneva (in preparation to be moved into the Geneva location), and other boats were scattered around the Finger Lakes. Some boats were in people's barns, storage spaces, and so forth. The Museum had no structure, we did not have a dedicated space to store our entire boat collection.
8231 Pleasant Valley Road - [former] Taylor Wine Company Building
In 2013 we approached Mercury Corporation to see if they had a building where we could store the collection. At the time Mercury Corp. owned the Taylor building complex. They offered us Building 42, more space than we needed at the time, but it was at least a place to keep our collection safe and sound.
To our surprise Mercury Corporation agreed to give us Building 42, but on one condition: that we were agree to use Building 42 if we agreed to take ownership of the entire Taylor buildings complex.
We were shocked and overjoyed to finally have a home. After much deliberation and discussion, the Board of Trustees of the FLBM voted to accept the very generous gift.
Refurbishing Our New Home
Since we accepted the new property it was up to volunteers from the Museum to renovate the main Taylor Wine building. It sat vacant for a long time, and was in need of heavy fixing-up. With over 100 Volunteers and with assistance from Steuben County Public Works we were able to fully clean up the inside of the main Taylor Wine building for safe museum space in one year.
Throughout the year we worked long hours opening up the Main Floor (at the top of the museum) and getting the iconic Taylor Rooms (the ground floor of the building) opened for public use. The soft opening was in June and the grand opening was in September.
After 17 years of moving around the Finger Lakes we had finally found our perfect home.
2014 was also the beginning of the Pat II Rebuilding Project!
Receipt of our Absolute Charter from New York State.
After our grand opening we continued develop more spaces in the building. The first expansion was on the second floor of the museum, where we opened the Canoe Room.
This year we also lost a building to natural circumstances. A building located on Pleasant Valley Road that was part of our property crumbled due to old age.
Expanding the Museum Exhibit Space
In 2016 we expanded into another room. The new expansion was dedicated to
Ed Wightman, then the President of the Museum. This room was heavily decorated and modified to look like a scene from one of the Finger Lakes, filled with classic boats from old days.
A.W.E.C. Opens Up
After opening up all of the rooms in the main building, we worked on getting the next building project complete. We were renovating a new education center across the road from the main museum building, where boatbuilding and boat restoration lessons could be tought. This building was dedicated in memory of the (late) Dr. Al Wahlig.
Today the Al Wahlig Education Center [A.W.E.C.] is where workshops and restorations are held.
New Murals Outside the FLBM
2018 was a slightly quieter year. We were not opening up any new buildings, but, we were creating murals for the outside of the AWEC building. The murals are an iconic part of our museum and add to the fun of visiting.
Golf Tournament Begins
After a quiet year we began working on the roofs of Buildings 9, 10, and 11. These buildings were next-in-line to be opened for museum use, and needed lots of work in preparation for their openings. Elsewhere in the museum we began the Concert Series, where musicians from near and far perform inside our Taylor Rooms. Another popular event that started this year was the FLBM Golf Tournament.
This year was also significant for the Museum. Up until 2019 the Museum was still connected to the Mercury Corporation electrical grid. Because our museum had grown successfully we were now able to remove ourselves from Mercury Corp. and become a fully independent museum.
The Museum closed its doors from the outbreak of the pandemic in March until June, when the museum could safely open its doors. We were fortunate that our museum was not closed for any longer.
During this year we got more things done, despite all the issues with the pandemic. The Keuka Dragons formed. During the summer the Keuka Dragons go out on Keuka Lake in their recognizable dragon boat - a boat in the shape of a dragon.
We opened up a new building for museum use. Building 9 was the first of many buildings that will be used for museum space in the future. These buildings are located on the hill, and were originally built between the 1950s and 1970s.
Building 9 is now being used as our Rowboat Hall.
Pat II Launches
This was a landmark year for the Museum. Since 2014, when the museum opened its doors our major boatbuilding project was the Pat II Tour Boat. We spent so many volunteer hours (approx. 40,000 collective volunteer hours) rebuilding her, top to bottom.
In May, 2021 the Pat II touched the water for her first time since she was retired from boating service in 1991. The volunteers put all their love into fully rebuilding her, and we are forever grateful for their commitment to this immense project.
Art Cohn and his research team continued underwater bathymetric and archaeological surveys of Seneca Lake. With his team's research they discovered known and unknown shipwrecks, a rare Erie Canal packet boat, and natural wonders at the bottom of the lake that had not been recorded or discovered in previous studies of the lake.
Art Cohn's 2019 Report is for sale in our Ship's Store, if you are curious about what else has been discovered at the bottom of Seneca Lake.
In addition, the Museum was gifted three additional buildings (numbers 22, 23, and 24) from Mercury Corp. These buildings, with the large parking lot, are located across the road from the main museum. In the future these buildings will help our museum grow.
The FLBM Celebrates 25 Years with an Anniversary Tasting Tour
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of our Museum we hosted a Tasting Tour throughout our Museum space. The tastings featured local wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
After our 25th-Anniversary Celebration the Museum has seen a continual growth not only in our size but also its presence in peoples' minds. In June, 2023 we opened up another building for exhibit spaces.