Last updated: 6/15/2013
Bemus Point, New York
Street Address
73 Lakeside Drive
Bemus Point, NY 14712
Mailing Address
PO Box 10
Bemus Point, NY 14712
Hours
May through September:
Sunday, Wednesday1 PM - 5 PM
Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Holidays 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Admissions
Adults: $5
Active Military Families: Free
Youth 18 and under: Free
Services
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Staff
David Wesp, Trustee in charge of exhibits (non-paid)
Patricia Baldwin, Trustee in charge of administration (non-paid)
Jon Stahley, Volunteer Co-ordinator (non-paid)
William Locke, Trustee - Membership and PR (non-paid)
Bruce Johnson, Volunteer - Physical Building Maintenance
Description

Overview

We are a small and fairly new museum (501 c 3 ) in Bemus Point, NY. Our mission is to preserve and present information and artifacts related to the rich heritage of boating and related recreation on Lake Chautauqua. Our exhibits include antique boats, extensive photos of steamboats, boat races, fishing, and general recreation from the late 1800's through the 1950's. We have a growing children's section where young people can have hands-on experience with the boats and learn age-relevant crafts related to boating.

The Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake is an IRS Section (501)(c)(3), not-for-profit, organization formed of Officers and Trustees whose passion is preserving, displaying, and presenting as much of Chautauqua boating history as possible: both its artifacts and its singular milieu.

So, why is the venerable L.S. Aero Marine building important to Chautauqua's boating history? Why would anybody turn this old business into a MUSEUM?

Before the 1920s, motorboats on Chautauqua Lake were nearly all large, expensive yachts, bought and maintained by the very wealthy. The Lawson Boat and Engine Company, Inc., precursor of L.S. Aero Marine, virtually introduced the first family-priced and family-sized motorboats to the lake.

Since its founding in 1918 the Boat Chandlery at 73 Lakeside Ave. in Bemus Point has been constantly in the forefront of family boating on Chautauqua, as the source of nearly one-thousand boats sold, as a treasure-trove of parts, as well as a font of first-hand knowledge and advice. L. S. Aeromarine is the history of family boating on Chautauqua Lake.

When we have completed the first phases of our work restoring the Lawson Chandlery this Summer, we will have taken important steps in preserving the memory of and many of the iconic relics from this history. It's our passion and your history.

This summer, 2013, we plan a season filled with adult and Kid education (including two NYS Boaters Safety Courses in May), special events, shop classes, and many new exhibit including antique and classic boats and steamboats. You're gonna' LOVE it! Oh, and don't miss our recently completed Boat Shop! That's worth a visit all by itself.

Mission

To preserve the boating history and physical presence of the Lawson family on Chautauqua lake; enrich and educate people's lives through this rich reflection of the past; and to reach out to children and adults by providing historical and educational boating exhibits and photographs, hands-on displays, and classes with workshops teaching the traditions and skills of the past with respect to wooden boat building.

History

The Board of Trustees of The Lawson Center was originally formed as The Friends of the Lawson Center when the 19th century house and 1918 ships's chandlery was deeded to them in 2010.

When the board applied for incorporation in June, 2010,the State of New York and the IRS awarded them a "Type-A," not for profit corporation as The Friends of the Lawson Center, Inc. [EIN 27-3671294] Having cleared all the hurdles necessary to gain this special, Type-A incorporation, the friends immediately incorporated a second time and on Sept. 14, 2010 was awarded a provisional charter by the New York Department of Education as, The Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake, an Educational Corporation, i.e., a Museum. [EIN 27-3671294]

In our second year of full operation, we display static and interactive exhibits on 3 levels and have hosted seminars on boats, boating history, woodworking and related topics for adults. This year, we have added program for school children, including a special program that fulfills the 4th grade local history requirements.

Artifact Collections

Antique wooden boats (motor and sail), photographs of the Chautauqua lake area boating and other forms of recreation since the mid-1800's. Vintage water skiing and rowing equipment. Anchors and antique outboard motors. Vintage woodwork tools used in boat building.

Research Collections

Shop manuals for repair and restoration of antique and classic wooden boats. Books, magazines, print advertising, and catalogs relating to motor boating since the early 1900's.

Educational Programs
  • Seminars: The Lawson Center brings in nationally known experts on antique and classic boats to lecture on their history, maintenance and restoration.
  • Youth Education: The Lawson Center has partnered with the Bemus Point school district to provide a field trip to the museum where 4th graders learn about the history of the lake and the boats. They have a "treasure hunt" to identify specific items in the collection. This program helps the schools to satisfy the curriculum requirement for local history.
  • Boat Building: Twice each week, there is a program for elementary schools children to make model boats; Next year there will be a program in conjunction with the University at Buffalo to teach boat building techniques and skills to high-school students where they will build a real motor boat which then get to keep.
Facilities

The Lawson Center is housed in a rennovated 1918 ship's chandlery on the shore of Lake Chautauqua. In addition to 3 floors of exhibits, there is a fully functional boat restoration shop. Classes and seminars are held either in the boat shop or on the 3rd floor. Three exterior decks are also available for seminars and meetings.

Governance

The Lawson Center is governed by a Board of Trustees. Each Trustee is responsible for one operational area.

Library

Access: General Public

Appointment required: Yes

Publications
  • Quarterly newsletter.
  • ADA

    The street level floor is wheelchair accessible and has a handicapped restroom. The second floor is accessible via a wheelchair lift. The ground floor is accessible with assistance via an exterior ramp.

    Wheelchair Accessible

    Restrooms

    Services

    Tours

    Private tours are available during non-public hours.

    Membership

    Individual and Family membership are available.

    In addition to self-guided tours, docents are available to provide formal and informal tours. There is a small gift shop. The facilities are available during non-public hours for small social events. The board room is available to local social and civic organizations for meetings.

    Gift Shop

    Special Event Rental

    Group Tours

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    Monday, August 1 - Friday, August 5, 2022 — Owings Mills, Maryland
    ASSOCIATION OF NATURE CENTER ADMINISTRATORS 2022 ANNUAL SUMMIT
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    Wednesday, September 14 - Saturday, September 17, 2022 — Buffalo, New York
    American Association for State and Local History 2022 On-site and Virual Conferences
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