Officially announcing their plans for the future, the Board of Trustees of the Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake Inc. gathered at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation recently. The Community Foundation offices were chosen as the sight for the meeting as they are currently accepting donations on behalf of the corporation and placing them in the “Friends of the Lawson Center Fund”.
The Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake Inc. has painstakingly restored the former L-S Aero Marine, a 92-year-old lakefront boat showroom and ship’s chandlery at 73 Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point, with the goal of showcasing Chautauqua Lake’s rich boating heritage.
“We want to take the history and legacy of Chautauqua Lake and share it with generations to come,” stated Anthony Hopfinger, President of the Board of Trustees of The Lawson Center, Inc.
The mission of The Lawson Center is to preserve the boating history and the physical presence the Lawson family has established on Chautauqua Lake, educate and enrich people’s lives through this reflection of the past, and reach out to people of all ages by providing historic and educational boating exhibits. A major function of The Lawson Boating Heritage Center will be presenting classes with workshops, as well as teaching the traditions and skills of the past with respect to boat building and restoration.
Since 1918, the Lawson family has operated a successful business at 73 Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point. That was the year David S. Lawson Sr. and Margaret Lawson, his spouse, purchased the property, and opened The Lawson Boat & Engine Company.
After expanding his business in 1927-1928, Lawson partnered with Ralph Sheldon, Jr., a former airplane pilot, and changed the name of the business to L-S Aero Marine to take advantage of the booming interest in flying at the time. The boom didn’t last, but the name stuck.
Beginning in the early 1960s, L-S Aero Marine was under the guidance of David S. Lawson Jr. and his sister, Jean, although Lawson Sr. remained active until 1968. Following Jean’s death in 2001, David Lawson, Jr. has been the sole owner and operator.
Since 1918, nearly a thousand new boats have been delivered from this location, along with countless new outboard motors, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, as well as marine-service parts and products.
“So much of my family’s history is tied up in this site,” said Lawson, “that I cannot think of a better way to carry our heritage into the future.”
The Lawson Center was established by eight local businessmen and boating enthusiasts dedicated to its stated mission and success. In fact, the Board of Regents and State University of New York recently approved The Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake as a chartered museum.
The Lawson Center will open their doors to the public this spring, with a formal Grand Opening scheduled for later in the summer of 2011. Also this spring, the Lawson Center will kick-off their Three Year Capital Campaign. Complete museum planning, membership opportunities, and fundraising details can be found by visiting the Center’s website: www.thelawsoncenter.org.
For more information regarding the “Friends of the Lawson Center Fund”, or to make a donation, call the Community Foundation at (716) 661-3390 or visit www.crcfonline.org. “Chautauqua Region Community Foundation – Enriching the Quality of Life in the Chautauqua Region.”