Welcome! The History Center is requiring that all visitors continue to wear masks inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture. Our visitors include young audiences and others who are unable to be vaccinated. We appreciate your respect and awareness in following our Health & Safety Protocols.
What's the Difference Between Historic Ithaca & The History Center in Tompkins County?
This is a question we get a lot, and honestly we're flattered. Historic Ithaca and The History Center have been long time collaborators and supporters of each others work in the community, but despite our long local histories we have always been separate organizations.
Historic Ithaca educates and advocates for historic buildings, sites, and landscapes, and maintains a library and archive of information related to buildings and sites in Tompkins County. The History Center is broadly the county-wide historical society. THC's focus is on social history and material culture, and our public engagement with the community through our museum Exhibit Hall and Research Library. Of course, as organizations we share some common goals and interests, and we frequently work together on projects and special events.
HISTORIC ITHACA'S MISSION
HI provides technical support including condition assessments, National Register nominations, house histories, cultural resource surveys, and more to individuals, organizations, and municipal governments in our community.
We engage the community in speaking out about preservation and built-environment issues, from promoting the cultural, economic, and sustainability benefits of historic preservation to opposing projects and actions that threaten historic buildings.
Our Library of the Built Environment is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, with over 500 book titles plus periodicals, maps, photographs and slides, and files on individual properties throughout Tompkins County.
HOW HISTORIC ITHACA CAME TO BE
In 1844 Ithaca’s early citizens built a stone and brick Greek Revival-style city hall on the corner of Seneca and Tioga Streets. Built to last, the building stood for 122 years until it was demolished in 1966.
That loss stirred community members to organize in order to save other historic buildings from the era’s urban renewal plans. Following the advice of an officer of the National Trust Historic Preservation, a small group of Ithacans formed an affiliate group under the name Historic Ithaca, Inc.
Pride in Ithaca’s history and architecture inspired early proponents to preserve additional buildings and structures, share their appreciation of Ithaca’s built environment with others, and recognize outstanding preservation projects.
For twenty-five years, Historic Ithaca has championed building material reuse through Significant Elements, an architectural salvage store housed in a century-old
warehouse at 212 Center Street. In 2010 Historic Ithaca launched its Work Preserve program to offer young adults job-readiness training through hands-on work.
Especially as Ithaca and Tompkins County grow in population and new development increases, Historic Ithaca remains committed to promoting the value and enhancement of our historic buildings and neighborhoods through education, advocacy and action. Historic places boost our quality of life, contribute significantly to economic vitality in Tompkins County and the Finger Lakes region, and deserve to be enjoyed and treasured by all.
PAST COLLABORATIVE EVENTS