Van Cleef Lake Centennial in Seneca Falls in August

Where are the falls? Everybody who works in downtown Seneca Falls hears that question constantly. Now, a committee that has been meeting since last fall is ready to supply the answer. Two full weeks of activities in August will mark the 100th anniversary of creation of the Barge Canal and the widewater area known as Van Cleef Lake in this Finger Lakes community. That action permanently eliminated the rapids and manmade waterfalls that gave Seneca Falls its name nearly a century earlier.After The Falls: Van Cleef Lake Centennial will begin with a gala dinner at the Hotel Gould on Friday, Aug. 7, and conclude with ceremonies, speeches, VIP visits, and fireworks over the lake on Thursday, Aug. 20, the actual 100th anniversary of the date when the lake was filled and the huge double-chamber locks at its foot were operable for the first time.Talks by historians, videos and movies, narrated boat tours, a water parade and street parade, a 1915-style vaudeville show, barbershop chorus concert, and many other activities are planned for the two-week commemoration. Most events are free.BACKGROUND:A series of rapids and the promise of never-ending water power drew Lawrence Van Cleef and other early settlers to establish a community that was incorporated as Seneca Falls in 1831. Mills and factories quickly rose along the Seneca River in a low-lying area known as the Flats. Multi-story brick factories and multiple businesses and homes lined three streets through the Flats.The Barge Canal project involved widening and deepening an earlier canal, replacing its five locks with one large double lock, replacing several bridges, and creating the lake in the middle of downtown by flooding the Flats. Before that happened, several houses were moved to higher ground. Dozens of other buildings were demolished. More than 1,000 trees were cut down. Rubble from demolished buildings – bricks and stone from huge mills and factories – was used as fill in old waterways and to create approaches to bridges needed to span the larger canal.Researcher Tanya Warren at the Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry has documented more than two dozen houses that were moved and are still occupied in and around Seneca Falls. Throughout the two-week centennial, original drawings and paintings of those houses will be on display at ArtWorks Gallery, run by the Seneca County Arts Council on Fall Street. Two local citizens, Emil Bove and Chad Sanderson, have sponsored the creation of permanent plaques to be mounted on those houses identifying them as having been moved from the Flats.Also running through the entire period and afterward will be displays in downtown and southside stores and other businesses showing the occupants of those spaces in 1915. Volunteers Marvin and Iva Lay and Susan Souhan studied old business directories, newspaper accounts and other resources to identify the 1915 occupants and create the displays.Before 1915, the Flats area was home to several companies that manufactured fire equipment and shipped their products all over the world. Some pieces of pre-1915 firefighting apparatus will be featured in a parade Aug. 8 on East Bayard Street, crossing the Ovid Street Bridge to lower Fall Street at the edge of the lake.Featured in the parade will be “Miss Daisy,” a spectacular 1881 Silsby steamer owned by the Friendship Volunteer Fire Department in Allegany County. The horse-drawn rig will be demonstrated lakeside at the conclusion of the parade. Miss Daisy’s appearance has been underwritten by Waterloo Container Inc.On Sunday, Aug. 9, an Aquacade – a water parade – will feature decorated and antique boats and novelty watercraft. Descendants of the original Van Cleef family will serve collectively as grand marshal for the water parade.A symposium led by three local historians at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 will explain the history of the Flats and describe the process followed by the state of New York in emptying that area and creating the lake and Barge Canal. The symposium will take place at the Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry. Admission is free; donations accepted.A local Italian fraternal organization, the SMS (Societa di Mutuo Succorso), is planning a pasta dinner and historical display at the SMS Hall, 95 Ovid Street, on Thursday, Aug. 13. Italian immigrants supplied much of the labor used in construction of the Barge Canal through the village.”Clinton’s Follies,” a 1915-style vaudeville show, will be presented by Seneca Community Players Friday and Saturday, Aug. 14 and 15. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children, with a maximum $20 family charge.Two women’s barbershop choruses, Harmony Falls from Trumansburg and Seneca Soundwaves from Canandaigua, will perform a concert at 2 p.m. Aug. 16 in the gazebo adjacent to Trinity Church overlooking Van Cleef Lake.The centennial period will be climaxed on Aug. 20 with a fireworks display shot from a barge in Van Cleef Lake and underwritten by Generations Bank.Other activities include showing of old movies, narrated boat tours, talks and tours led by historians, and a reception for current owners of the houses moved from the Flats.Members of the Van Cleef family have been invited to attend and take part in various activities through the centennial period.FULL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:Friday, Aug. 7: 6:30 p.m. – Dinner at Gould Hotel with foods from 1915 hotel restaurant menu. Live auction. Premiere showing of Arnold Barben collection of photos of the Flats during razing and removal of buildings. Tickets $40 per person; festive and period dress encouraged. Artworks Gallery: Show of paintings, drawings depicting houses moved. Boat tours during the day.Saturday, Aug. 8: 2 p.m.- Street parade on East Bayard Street, Ovid Street Bridge, down lower Fall Street to lakeside, demonstration of Miss Daisy, 1881 Silsby pumper towed by team of horses; parade to feature antique Seneca Falls fire equipment handled by current firefighters; members of Van Cleef family; costumed suffragists; tribute to early Italian canal workers; others; Miss Daisy appearance underwritten by Waterloo Container Co.- Commercial boat tours 10 a.m, noon, 2 p.m, 4 p.m.- Trinity Church self-guided tours – Group of suffragists parading with sashes and signs in townSunday, Aug. 9:2 p.m. – Aquacade moving downstream from Water Falls Bridge into lake, circling lake and returning; featuring Seneca Falls PD boat, boat with Van Cleef family as grand marshal; antique and vintage boats, floats, decorated watercraft, novelties- Commercial boat tours- Trinity Church self-guided toursMonday, Aug. 10:7 p.m. – Symposium on canal and Flats and lake history moderated by Erie Canal Museum Curator Dan Ward and featuring talks by historians Walter Gable, Christopher Waters and Tanya Warren, Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry. Admission free, donations acceptedWednesday, Aug. 12:9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Farmers Market, People’s Park7 p.m. Reception for owners of houses that were moved, Community CenterThursday, Aug. 13:- 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Pasta dinner at SMS Hall, 95 Ovid St.; SMS historical displayFriday, Aug. 14 :Boat tours 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.7 p.m: “Clinton’s Follies” 1915-style vaudeville show, Mynderse Academy auditorium; admission $8 adults, $4 children, $20 family maximum; Seneca Community Players production underwritten in part by Bonafiglia family, arts sponsor for centennial Saturday, Aug. 15 :Boat tours 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.7 p.m. “Clinton’s Follies”- Trinity toursSunday, Aug. 16:Boat tours 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.11:15 a.m. History walk behind stores guided by Fran Caraccilo and Fred Capozzi,2 p.m. Concert by women’s barbershop choruses Harmony Falls, Trumansburg, and Seneca Soundwaves, Canandaigua, at lakeside gazebo; inside Trinity Church in case of rain; free- Trinity toursTuesday, Aug. 18:7 p.m: Premiere of new movie “Boom or Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal,” Hotel Gould. Admission $10; benefit for Seneca Falls Historical Society and National Women’s Hall of Fame Wednesday, Aug. 19:9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Farmers Market, People’s ParkThursday, Aug. 20:Boat tours 7 p.m., 9 p.m.After 7 p.m.: Ceremonial arrival of VIPs locking through into lake for ceremony, coming ashore to gazebo for brief remarks, walking across bridge to Generations Bank for Taste & Tunes, fireworks at 9:30 p.m. sponsored by Generations Bank5-9 p.m.: Taste & Tunes, food and music in tent at Generations Bank, $20 per person9:30 p.m. Fireworks grand finaleEvery day:- Continuous video showing of Arnold Barben collection of photos of buildings being razed and/or moved from the Flats, Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry- Scenic boat tours on request- Wandering barbershop quartets, groups of suffragists, at random- Show at Artworks Gallery of works depicting houses moved – Food available various locations around town- Displays in storefront windows showing businesses that occupied those properties in 1915; underwritten by Bonafiglia family

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