Posted by Joel Keefer
Pictured L-R; Cheri Krull, Amy Rohler, Craig Butler, Joni Blackman
 
We welcomed Craig Butler from the Lawson Center to our meeting today. Craig has spoken to our group before, and wanted to give an update on what's been going on at their facility in Bemus Point. Craig was introduced by Amy Rohler, who mentioned that Craig moved to the area after retiring in 2007. Craig is also an avid rower. 
 
Craig is very proud of the Lawson Center, which was created in 2010 to celebrate boating on Chautauqua Lake and the Lawson Family. 
 
The mission of the Lawson Center is to preserve the boating history and the physical presence of the Lawson family on Chautauqua Lake. To educate and enrich people's lives through this reflection of the past, and to reach out to children and adults of all ages by providing historic and educational boating exhibits and photographs, hand on displays, and classes with workshops teaching the traditions and skills of the past with respect to wooden boat-building. In addition the Lawson Center will provide a community focal point for events and showcase the area's rich boating history
 
According to the Lawson Center website, in November 1918, 32-year-old David S. Lawson purchased a Nineteenth-century house, garage, and boat house at 73 Lakeside Drive at Bemus Point. Naming his enterprise The Lawson Boat and Engine Co, Inc., he serviced and stored automobiles at the street level and boats at the lake level.
 
In 1930, Lawson formed L-S Aero Marine with Ralph Sheldon, Jr. as principal shareholders. In 1947, the garage on Lakeside Drive was razed and the-brick-and concrete-block-showroom was built (bricks made by Chautauqua Brick Co.). Retails sales grew.
 
Fast forward to 1971 when Dave Jr. and his sister Jean took over the operation of the business. Jean ran the Bemus Point store until 2000 and died in 2001.

In February 2010, Dave, Jr. agreed to donate the property to a group of businessmen. In October 2010, ownership of this historic structure passed to the Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake, Inc.
 
Also according to their website, the Lawson Boating Heritage Center on Chautauqua Lake is an IRS Section (501)(c)(3), not-for-profit, organization formed of Officers and Trustees whose passion is preserving, displaying, and presenting as much of Chautauqua boating history as possible: both its artifacts and it’s singular milieu.
 
Craig said the Lawson Center is primarily a boating museum, but is also a hospitality venue for receptions, meetings and reunions. They have hosted many wonderful events since officially opening in May of 2012. Over $600,000 in renovations were made on the facility, and it is a beautiful structure. 
 
Currently, between 300-400 members sustain the Lawson Center with donations and volunteering. The facility is financially stable and viable. 
 
We thanked Craig for a great presentation!
 
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