Thursday, December 1, 2016

Central New York Living History Center

Kitchen display in museum

Name: Central New York Living History Center
Address: 4386 US Route 11, North Homer Ave, Cortland, NY
Phone (607) 299-4185

Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 1pm-5pm Memorial Day to Labor Day

This is not exactly a research center, although they are working on developing one within the museum itself. However, if you want to explore what life was like in the past in the Cortland area, or even all of Central New York, this is a good place to start.

Some of the military memorabilia
 The museum is housed in what was once the A. B. Brown department store. Now it houses history of the area. Exhibits vary, but there are a number of exhibits currently about military history. Kenneth Eaton, a local resident, collected a huge amount of military artifacts as well as railroad memorabilia. The Sons of the American Revolution are mentioned from the Revolutionary War and various artifacts including many, many uniforms are there through at least the Second World War. I believe I missed some of the exhibits pertaining to Korea and the Vietnam Wars, but there is definitely a tank parked outside that would be from that era. These exhibits are fascinating and included amongst them are some of local businesses from the area as well. The railroad items are there as well; don’t forget to ring the bell on the locomotive! However, there is even more to the museum than these exhibits that we originally saw.
The cord on the right rings the bell

A view of the trucks from the second floor

In another wing of the building are a number of trucks. Perhaps you have heard of these trucks with the husky on radiator called Brockway. If you are from the Cortland area, you certainly have and perhaps even know somebody that built them. That’s right! Brockway trucks were manufactured in either Homer or Cortland during the entire lifespan of this brand. Many a business in this area that required a big truck bought the Brockway brand. This section of the museum tells the history of Brockway and displays a number of examples of their trucks.

A Brockway on display
Just across the parking lot is an old barn that was also used by A. B. Brown Company. Today you can find an exhibit of tractors and various displays about the old one room schools as well as what the dining room and kitchen of an old house would look like. I had a grand time looking at old glassware, and kitchen utensils along with a crocheted granny square afghan on display. Many of these items aren’t so distant in the past as I have seen them in many people’s homes today! I was told that in the spring the tractors exhibit would have a theme based on the age-old debate of “green or red?” For those not aware of this debate, it is a debate of brand loyalty and farmers are definitely loyal to their favorite brand of tractor.  Is it the green John Deere, the red International Farmall, the grey Ford or the orange Allis Chalmers? The debate is waged and often referring to the machinery only by their color.

My Dad always had a Farmall

This museum, while small, holds a great amount of nostalgia and is certainly worth an afternoon or morning to visit!

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