A 25-year-old dream soon will take shape in the ancient fields of Ganondagan State Historic Site.
A major Seneca Art & Culture Center will break ground this fall at the Victor landmark. The project will cost at least $10 million, Ganondagan leaders predict.
If all goes according to plan, the wood-and-glass structure will open in fall 2013. More than $6 million already has been raised for the expandable building and its future exhibits.
It will be the most significant Rochester-area cultural project in more than three years . The Nazareth College Arts Center was renovated and expanded in 2009, and the Eastman School of Music renovated its Eastman Theatre and built an East Wing in 2010.
The new center will feature a gallery showcasing Native American art and history, an auditorium, a catering kitchen and educational facilities for schoolchildren and college students. It also will host Native American gatherings and house a distance-learning program on Haudenosaunee art and culture.
The center will operate year-round — a welcome change as Ganondagan enters its 25th season. Its 17th century-style bark longhouse and its gift shop are unheated and open only May through October. Ganondagan leaders say that the longer season and new attractions could raise attendance to 52,500 visitors by 2016 — a 50 percent increase.
“We feel that it will be a major tourist destination,” says site manager G. Peter Jemison. “This center already was in our master plan 25 years ago. We’ve been working quietly to make it happen for more than seven years.”
“It presents a very attracting marketing opportunity,” adds Valerie Knoblauch, president of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “No one else in our area can present Native American culture and history on the original site. We’re pleased that Ganondagan is moving forward with its long-time vision.”
Ganondagan already draws tourists from 20 states and 37 countries for its annual Native American Dance & Music Festival, which ends this evening.
The money trail
To finance the new center, Ganondagan approached a diverse group of Native American, government and foundation donors. It had some strong selling points as a national landmark. Ganondagan was the Senecas’ 17th-century capital, the largest known Seneca town and currently the only historic Seneca town to be interpreted in the United States.
Last Modified: 3:09pm 31 Aug 12