Featured Tours


Ezra Cornell Historic Tour

Ezra Cornell (1807-1874) first came to Ithaca at the age of 21. He worked as a carpenter and then in Jeremiah Beebe's plaster and flour mill. By the time he was 57 he was a millionaire and philanthropist. He founded Cornell University in 1865.


William Henry Miller Downtown Architecture   Tour

William Henry Miller (1848-1922) was one of Ithaca's most prolific local architects, dramatically reshaping the skyline of Ithaca and Cornell University.

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Ithaca Art Bike Rack Tour

Enjoy the artist-designed bike racks in the City of Ithaca. This artful tour takes you to the 12 winning designs of the 2017 Community Bike Rack Design Competition sponsored by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Tompkins County Tourism Program, the City of Ithaca, and Bike Walk Tompkins.

Wharton Studio Silent Film Tour

Visit the historic Wharton Studio where, from 1915 to 1921, silent movies were directed and produced, starring some of the best known actors of the day.

Featured Person

 Photograph courtesy of www.DorothyCottoninstitute.org

Photograph courtesy of www.DorothyCottoninstitute.org

Dorothy F. Cotton (1930-2018)

Dorothy Cotton was considered one of the most important unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.

She worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as education director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and led the Citizen Education Program, meant to help black citizens register to vote. The program helped people understand their civil rights, organize in their communities, envision the change they desired, and helped "transform often poorly educated and disenfranchised people from 'victims' to full 'citizens,'" according to her biography on the Dorothy Cotton Institute (DCI).

Cotton's lifework was based on the "philosophy and practices of nonviolence, reconciliation and restoration, and grassroots leadership development," according to the DCI website.

The Dorothy Cotton Institute will be part of the Tompkins Center for History and Culture (and there will be a room named in honor of Dorothy Cotton.


There are so many barns in Tompkins County!

Check out just a few of Tompkins County's barns featured on the Ithaca Heritage PocketSights self-guided barn tour. If you want a closer look at barn architecture, we will be offering guided bus tours and will view a few barns during the Authentically Rural weekend, October 5-7, 2018. What is your favorite barn in Tompkins County?

 747 Sheldon Road, Freeville Groton, New York. Courtesy of Mary Hornbuckle

747 Sheldon Road, Freeville
Groton, New York. Courtesy of Mary Hornbuckle

747 Sheldon Road, Freeville

In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, this 30' x 40' post-and-beam barn was constructed from local timbers. The barn had been expanded over the years to meet changing agricultural needs. When the current owners acquired the property in 1980, the building was in serious disrepair. Rather than tear it down, they chose to restore it in 1991 to resemble its original appearance.



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Use the tools of history to understand the past, gain perspective on the present, and help shape the future.