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The History Center blog shares research and findings about local history, excerpts from the History Center Archives, information about upcoming exhibits and other opportunities on how to get involved with The History Center in Tompkins County. To learn more or view the archival materials mentioned, visit us in downtown Ithaca, follow us on social media @TompkinsHistory, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter History Happenings

History Community Remembers the many Contributions of Lansing Historian Louise Pier Bement

Thu, August 04, 2022 4:14 PM | Anonymous
History Community Remembers the many Contributions of Lansing Historian Louise Pier Bement
"Lansing Historian and teacher Louise Pier Bement died at the Ithaca Hospicare residence on June 30,  2022, attended by family and friends, after an extended illness. Louise was 89 and had lived in Lansing since 1969.

Louise taught 4th grade in the Lansing elementary school for over 19 years. While teaching full-time and raising a family, Louise completed her master’s degree in Reading and Language Arts at Elmira College in 1972 and became certified to teach K-12 in New York State.

“I never expected to teach in the elementary school and hadn’t the least idea how to do it, but a job was a job, so I sailed in and learned how as I taught.”

During Louise’s teaching career, she and her students produced four books on the history of Lansing: The Portland Point Cement CompanyThe International Salt Company that was located on what is now Salt Point, Cayuga Lake, and The Cayuga Rock Salt Mine now operated by Cargill.  Louise was proud of the books written by her young students, which were packed with facts from primary sources.  She often referred to them when she gave talks about Lansing history.

When Louise retired from teaching, she continued with her interest in local history. The Lansing archives consisted of many uncatalogued boxes of records that had been stored for many years in the historian’s barn before being transferred to an attic at the Lansing town hall. Louise said, “There might have been a historical society, but it had been inactive for a long time. When I needed to access the archives to work on the Portland Point book, I needed to climb a ladder into the attic of the town hall to access the material. The attic was either unbearably hot or cold depending upon the time of year.”

Recognizing a need to preserve Lansing’s history, Louise asked the town to make her town historian. Later, as the archives grew, Louise convinced the town to build a proper archive building to house the collection and she helped create the Lansing Historical Society to catalog and curate it. The Lansing Historical Association was founded in 1988 when interested people got together to form a board. Louise liked having the town history organized. It is wonderful to have an archive building where the archives could easily be accessed by many people at once.

Louise researched Lansing’s connections to the Underground Railroad and created a historical plaque identifying a house that she documented in a diary to have harbored runaway slaves. Rogues Harbor Inn received its historical landmark status due in large part to Louise’s research.

The relocation and rehabilitation of the Field School, a forlorn one-room schoolhouse, was her crowning achievement. Leveraging every resource she could identify, Louise planned and orchestrated the relocation of the school house to a site at the Lansing town hall. The utility company raised overhead electrical wires so the building could pass under them. Louise’s optimism and belief in the project enchanted scores of volunteers, highway department workers, tradespeople, and her husband Bill, to donate their skills and time to move, rehabilitate, and furnish the Field School. Now a beloved Lansing historical treasure, the schoolhouse project would never have happened without Louise’s boundless faith and spirit."

Read Full Obituary at Ithaca Voice
Louise's books and other local history articles are preserved and available to the public in The History Center's Research Library & Archives.

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