A ribbon cutting for the Longshed building at Canalside was held earlier today. Work has been completed on the 4,000 square foot structure that will one day house the construction of a replica of Governor DeWitt Clinton’s 73′ packet boat – the boat that traversed the Erie Canal to take part in the Wedding of the Waters ceremony.
This is another significant advancement for Canalside, at the Commercial Slip opposite the Naval Museum. The Longshed will help to tell the story of the Erie Canal, and Buffalo’s coming of age as an industrial powerhouse city.
The Erie Canal – a 363 mile waterway that connects Buffalo to the Hudson River – will be celebrating its bicentennial in 2025. At that time, the Longshed will serve as a gathering place for a celebration, while the packet boat will be berthed (once completed) in the Commercial Slip where it will become an interactive museum of sorts, open to the public for an array of events and activities.
Having a community resource such as this venue will allow for an assortment of activities and celebrations to occur. Plus, while the construction of the packet boat is underway, there will be a number of educational components available to the community. This structure will become an ever-changing nautical museum and venue that will help the public to understand the intricacies of boatbuilding, while learning about the history of the waterfront.
“Buffalo is experiencing a resurgence, but we are making an effort to preserve our history and tell our unique story with attractions like the Longshed,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting, to show ongoing support from the State level. “The Erie Canal was instrumental in the growth of Buffalo and Western New York and continues to play a large role in its future as Canalside has become a year-round destination. We will continue to find ways to stimulate the local economy bringing tourists here as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the post-pandemic future.”
This effort would not be possible with the vision and fortitude of John Montague of the Buffalo Maritime Center (BMC), who is a staunch advocate for Buffalo’s maritime past, present, and future. Significant funding from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) also helped to get the project to completion, via a federal relicensing settlement agreement thanks in part to Congressman Brian Higgins.
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “The Longshed embraces Buffalo’s history and plans for our future, continuing our work to create a waterfront destination that is uniquely ours. This is the latest project made possible thanks to the 2006 New York Power Authority federal relicensing settlement which has funded a great deal of Buffalo’s waterfront development.”
NYPA chairman and Buffalo resident JohnR. Koelmel said, “This restoration project is a great reflection of the Buffalo Maritime Center’s dedication to upholding the great history of Buffalo and New York State. NYPA is proud to provide funding to support this project and be a strong leader in redeveloping the waterfront in Buffalo.”
Other contributors to the project include Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), with funding from private donors and BMC supporters David and Joan Rogers, and Assemblymember Sean Ryan.
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “People who come to Canalside to visit the Longshed will not only learn about the history of Governor Clinton’s 1825 packet boat but will also come away with an appreciation for the volunteers from the Buffalo Maritime Center who will work on this project in the coming years. Their passion and enthusiasm for this remarkable project shows no bounds.”
Mara Manus, Executive Director of the New York State Council on the Arts, said, “NYSCA joins in the celebration of the Longshed Building and the launch of the Buffalo Maritime Center’s packet boat project, for which we are proud to have provided significant funding through a partnership with the REDC. The real-time construction and ensuing launch of the boat will create a lasting bond with Buffalo and all who come from far and near to experience the magnificence of the canal. This groundbreaking project, along with the revitalization of Buffalo’s waterfront, affirms the Erie Canal as one of the state’s greatest stages to experience the arts.”
The construction manager is Savarino Cos. The architect is HHL Architects.