Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of construction at the Seneca Knitting Mill, which will become the Center for Great Women and the new home of the National Womens Hall of Fame. Work at limestone structure, built in 1844 on the Seneca-Cayuga Canal, will focus on the initial stabilization of the building as well as the preservation of architectural history and honoring those who worked there.
"As the birth place of the Women's Rights Movement, there is no community more appropriate than Seneca Falls to house the Center for Great Women and the National Women's Hall of Fame, which will honor the trailblazers that continue to inspire women across the globe," Governor Cuomo said. "For generations, the women of New York have led the way in the pursuit of a more equal and fair society, and we are proud to continue to preserve and promote this legacy in Seneca Falls."
President of the National Women's Hall of Fame (the Hall) Jill Tietjen said, We are thrilled that the Mill stabilization project is beginning. This is an important step in the transformation of the Mill into the Center for Great Women the future home of the Hall. At the Center, we will celebrate and honor the inspirational women on whose shoulders we all stand and help develop generations of future women leaders.
In support of the $25 million effort to rehabilitate the Mill and build the Center, the National Women's Hall of Fame (the Hall) has received nearly $4 million in matching grants. New York State grants include $2.5 million from Empire State Development (Restore NY), $830,000 from the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and $150,000 from Canal Corporation. Two of the New York State grants were awarded through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC). The National Park Service Save Americas Treasures program also awarded the project funding.
All are matching grants that require the Hall to raise equivalent support through fundraising campaigns from local, regional, and national donors. Fundraising efforts to date have realized matching donations from the Town of Seneca Falls, individual donors, and local businesses --enabling this important work to begin.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, New York State was the birthplace of the womens rights movement. This project will recognize this important legacy, spur tourism and grow economic development in the region.
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for helping preserve and enhance what will be an exceptional new destination in the Seneca Falls Heritage Area. Throughout our history, New York State has been a leader in ensuring equal rights for women, and its a story that should be told and shared.
Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, Womens history has deep roots in New York State and the Canal Corporation is proud to help put this history on display. The former Seneca Knitting Mill is a prominent symbol of Womens Rights, the Industrial Revolution, and New Yorks Canals. I cannot think of a better home for the honorable women enshrined in the Womens Hall of Fame.
Senator Mike Nozzolio said, "Today's groundbreaking ceremony is the culmination of years of hard work, planning and a vision for the future that will transform the former Seneca Knitting Mill property in Seneca Falls to the new headquarters of the National Women's Hall of Fame. As the home of the national women's rights movement, the former Seneca Knitting Mill property is the perfect venue for the new building. Both my parents worked in the factory at the former Seneca Knitting Mill building that will now become the home to the National Women's Hall of Fame, so it is especially meaningful to me to see new life breathed into this building."
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said, The start of this project begins an exciting new chapter for the National Womens Hall of Fame. This institution is a part of American history and a tremendous source of pride for New York State and the Seneca Falls community. Todays groundbreaking is a result of a collaborative effort and will improve this cherished facility and the experience for visitors. This is a fitting endeavor to honor the legacy and contributions of women who have shaped America.
Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chair Robert W. Hayssen said, Being a native of Seneca Falls, I know how important it is to be known as the Birth Place of Womans Rights. Todays groundbreaking cements in these limestone walls that Seneca Falls will forever be known as the Birth Place of Womens Rights. Seneca Falls and Seneca County will be forever proud of the accomplishments of the early suffragettes.
Town of Seneca Falls and Seneca County Supervisor Don Earle said, Since I moved to Seneca Falls in 1987 and began learning of the rich history of this great town, I have grown to appreciate everyone's efforts to promote women and their contributions to our great country. We are pleased to have this ground breaking ceremony today to honor their efforts here in Seneca Falls where it began. Any project of this size is never easy and as a result of many men and womens hard work, we are now able to restore this historic Knitting mill to a world recognized home and display of women everywhere in the past, present, and future. I am proud of our Town of Seneca Falls Board supporting this great effort with a contribution of $250,000 to benefit the entire town and to help promote tourism and growth for our community and for all to enjoy.
About the National Womens Hall of Fame
The Hall is the nations oldest membership organization dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of great American women. It was created in 1969 in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American Womens Rights Movement, by a group of local women and men who believed that contributions of American women deserved a permanent home in the small village where the fight for womens rights began. The Hall, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, is located in the Seneca Falls Historic District in downtown Seneca Falls, New York.
The Hall seeks to enhance the publics understanding of American history and culture by showcasing and preserving the stories of pioneering American women whose achievements have enduring value, are of national importance, and have significance both in our country and the world. Rehabilitation of the Seneca Knitting Mill will transform the property into a state-of-the-art facility that will become a vibrant educational venue where visitors, scholars, tourists and the community can discover inspiration in the history of womens struggles.
For more information about the Hall and its Inductees, visit greatwomen.org.