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vha 120When the Village of Lansing was incorporated in 1974 after a long and hard fought political battle, it codified a basic difference in philosophy between those in the southern part of the town that was desperate for zoning, and the north, which wanted to preserve its character as a farming community.  Structurally, though, the Village is a separate municipality that is still part of the Town.  When Village Trustee Gerry Monaghan approached Lansing Town Historian Louise Bement this year with an idea of establishing a Village historical archive within the Town archive, she jumped at the chance.

"I think that's the way it's going to be," says Bement.  Just like the Village is a separate Village inside the Town, the Village Archive will be a separate archive within the Town archive."

The idea came to Monaghan as he was contemplating Town services available to villagers that they have not taken advantage of.  Monaghan notes that since the Village was incorporated the two municipalities have become more like cousins than siblings.  But they have much in common, and a shared history.

"It occurred to me that this would be a great place to come up and start thinking about utilizing services and get involved," Monaghan.  I joined the Lansing Historical Association.  People know me more for my sculpture, but I also have a background in history as a photo restoration artist.  My interest is in creating artifacts, preserving them and helping people to create artifacts of personal history."

Bement says she thinks it's about time a Village archive be established within the Town archive.  She was very receptive to the idea when Monaghan brought his idea to her.

"We really seemed to connect," Monaghan says.  "It was almost instantaneous -- she said 'that is a great idea.'  And I am learning all about relationships between the Village and the Town."

vha schmidtSix boxes of research contributed to 'Lansing at the Corssroads' by Rita Schmidt

The anchor of a Village historical archive has to be the The Rita Schmidt archive, six boxes of research that Schmidt used when writing 'Lansing at the Crossroads', a unique, detailed history of the creation of the Village of Lansing, which was incorporated largely because of a major disagreement about zoning.  In a way that was Lansing's Civil War, pitting the north, which wanted no part of zoning, against the south, which was concerned about zoning in part because the Pyramid Mall (now the Shops at Ithaca Mall) was being built there whether they liked it or not.  The archive was donated to the Town Historical Association in 2001 by Schmidt's husband Sy just after the book was published.  

Monaghan plans to go through the archive and add other materials with an eye toward building a separate archive within the Town archive.  Bement says it will be stored separately within the Lansing Historical Archive building, so it can be easily referenced.  Monaghan hopes that future exhibits will come out of it.

He has an advantage over Bement: the Village was incorporated in 1974, so many of the key players are still alive.  The town archives, on the other hand, go back to the Revolutionary War.  Monaghan has already begun taking advantage of the shorter life of the Village by reaching out to past and present members of the Village government, including former Mayor Anne Furry, as well as people who were part of the formation of the Village.

vha statedocThe very first letter from the New York State Secretary of the Treasury establishing the Village as its own enterprise.

He notes that this year is the 40th anniversary of the Village, and wants the new archive to reflect the Village's unique character.  The Village of Lansing houses people from 24 different countries, many of whom are apartment dwellers, many of those Cornell students or employees.  It is not a traditional village like those in Trumansburg or Groton, and many of its residents consider themselves Ithaca residents.  Many see it as a suburb of Ithaca, and, indeed, it has the malls and the county airport and the business and technology park within its borders.

"I'm interested in pictures from when the malls were being built," Monaghan says.  "I'm interested in anything that would relate to the create Route 13.  The Village Office has functioned as a repository of Village history since the beginning.  They have incredible records thanks to (Village Clerk) Jodi Dake.  She and her predecessor have kept track of everything.  I think it would be wonderful if we could have an exhibit of Village History."

vha MonaghanBementerry Monaghan and Louise Bement

While the Town provides the archive building and employs Bement as Town Historian, the archive itself belongs to the Lansing Historical Association.  An annual membership, which includes a monthly lectures and a newsletter chock full of Lansing diaries, pictures and remembrances is only $10.  The organization has published several books about Lansing and sells others.

The Historical Archive building is located in the same parking lot as the Lansing Town Hall and the Lansing Community Library, next to the historic Field One Room School House.  It is open most Saturday mornings from 10 until noon during the winter.

"I would like to see strengthening of the relationship between the cousins," Monaghan says.  "This is a wonderful chance for us to all lend to the flavor of the stew.  The Town and Village really have become two different little families.  But it's wonderful that we can have a conversation here in the Lansing Historical Association."

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