Explore the deep heritage of Ithaca, New York and Tompkins County
through walking, biking, and driving tours.
Historic Bridges in Tompkins County, NY Tour
Each stop on the tour highlights one of Tompkins County's historical bridges, showing how it has been either altered or preserved over the years.
William Henry Miller Lower Collegetown Architecture Walking Tour
William Henry Miller (1848-1922) was one of Ithaca's most prolific local architects, dramatically reshaping the skyline of Ithaca and Cornell University.
Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour
This LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning) local history tour is designed to preserve some of the rich stories and heritage of our Ithaca community.
Ithaca College: A Walking Tour of Its Downtown Roots
Ithaca College began modestly in 1892 as the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, founded in downtown Ithaca by a local musician, violinist William Grant Egbert. This walking tour begins at the Boardman House on DeWitt Park and includes many college landmarks
By the late 1890s the art and science of photography had advanced considerably beyond the cumbersome and costly processes of the mid-1800s. Cameras and equipment were more portable and accessible to gifted amateurs, and photography became a popular outlet for people eager to record images of daily life. One such gifted amateur in Tompkins County was Groton’s Verne Morton. Born in 1868, Morton, the son of a farmer, was a dedicated schoolteacher in various district schools in Groton, Lansing, Dryden, and Locke. His students remembered him as quiet, shy, and kindly. He was also a skilled amateur naturalist, with an extensive library of field guides to the flora and fauna of the area. He collected various plant specimens, which he meticulously labeled and preserved on proper herbarium sheets.
Morton’s first photographs date to 1896, and for the next 49 years, until his death in 1945, he painstakingly documented rural life in upstate New York in more than 12,000 remarkable photographs. His subjects include the people and the activities of the world in which he lived: farmers stacking hay; children running in a schoolyard; beekeepers extracting honey from a comb; family groups posed outside of farmhouses. It is interesting to see the dramatic technological and social changes that Morton’s images highlight as the 20th century progresses. Automobiles replace ox carts, and tractors supplant horse-drawn plows. Telephone poles and wires appear in village street scenes, and a woman is pictured in a Bell Telephone office in Groton.
But nearly half the photographs he took were of the natural world, which he portrayed with great skill and artistry. Cornell naturalist Anna Botsford Comstock and horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey often used Morton’s photographs of local plants and flowers to illustrate their publications and bulletins put out by Cornell’s College of Agriculture. His images of animals in the wild remind us of the extraordinary patience that great nature photographers must have to capture the fleeting moments when they are in view.
Forest Home Chapel, 224 Forest Home Drive, Ithaca, NY
This L-shaped, shingled Colonial Revival building has been part of the hamlet of Forest Home for over a hundred years. It was designed by Cornell Architecture Dean Clarence A. Martin to blend in appropriately with nearby houses and completed in 1915. Prior to its construction, Forest Home residents attended services in Varna, and a Methodist minister conducted services in the old schoolhouse.
The main entrance faces the road with a fan light over the door, which is framed by classical pilasters. On the main floor, the sanctuary is a bright, open room with pews and an elevated altar area. The steeple and bell were added around 1964.
Since its inception, the chapel has accepted worshippers from all religious denominations. The church also serves as a neighborhood community center.
Tour the chapel during Historic Ithaca’s That Old House Tour on Saturday, June 15, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit the Historic Ithaca website.
Tompkins County’s voice for historic preservation, education, and sustainability.
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Use the tools of history to understand the past, gain perspective on the present, and help shape the future.