Cayuga Museum of History & Art

cayuga_museum_artCayuga Museum of History & Art

203 Genesee Street
Auburn, NY 13021

Open Tuesday – Sunday: Noon – 5pm. Regular admission is free, however donations are gratefully accepted. A Child’s World will present a view of childhood stretching from colonial times to the present exploring ideas of education, family, and child labor.

The Willard-Case mansion, now home to the Cayuga Museum, was constructed by John Seymour in 1836. Seymour’s failure to pay back taxes resulted in bank ownership of the building from 1839 until 1843, when it was purchased by Sylvester Willard. Willard, his wife Jane Frances Case, two daughters, Georgiana and Carolina, and in-laws Erastus and Mary Case moved to Auburn from Bristol, Connecticut, in that same year. Sylvester Willard was a physician by profession and, with Erastus Case, was part owner of the Oswego Starch Company. Both men carried investments in local banks, railroads, and various industries.

The Willards were prominent Auburn residents who supported the community in many ways, including generous donations to the Auburn Theological Seminary. Following the deaths of Willard and his wife, Georgiana and Carolina donated funds for the construction of the Willard Chapel at the Auburn Seminary, with its interior designed by Tiffany. It is the only building from the seminary campus that survives today.

Following the passing of Georgiana in 1901, and Carolina in 1916, the mansion, along with an estate worth over 1.5 million dollars, was inherited by Willard E. Case, a cousin of the Willard sisters. The building soon served as a residence and business of Case’s son, Theodore E. Case. In 1916, the Case Research Laboratory was built on the foundation of the estate greenhouse. With the assistance of E.I. Sponable, the Case Research Lab invented the first commercially successful method of recording sound film, which was purchased by Fox films in 1926. Theodore Case then built a grand mansion at 108 South Street and the old Willard residence became the private Logan School. It also continued to house the offices of the Case Research Lab.

In 1936, Theodore Case and his wife, Gertrude, donated the building for use as a museum, the purpose it serves to this day.