In the Beginning
Built in 1852, the Bruce House was owned by Harry C. Heermans between 1893-1919. Heermans expanded Corning Village Waterworks, managed real estate holdings, produced and repaired machinery, and owned a drug and wallpaper company.
Adding On | The Dance Studio
From 1919-1967, the Knights of Columbus Permanent Home Association owned the building. They added a 2000-square-foot upstairs hall, which served first as a meeting room and place for activities such as Friday night fish fries, and later as Mme. Halina’s Dance Studio.
One Seventy One Cedar, Inc.
Douglass Bruce, owner of Chowning Regulator Company, bought the building in 1967. He rented studio rooms to artists and musicians. Bruce and others envisioned a place where artists and the community “could thrive and grow,” and in 1968, 171 Cedar Arts Center was born, helping artists and the community learn, hone skills, and showcase talents.
The Bruce House
The Bruce House was built in the Italianate style and contains 8,750 square feet in two and a half stories. Architectural highlights include a large central hall staircase with a stained-glass skylight, ornate windows and doors, and elaborate fireplace surrounds with ceramic tile. The building exudes the ambiance of a warm and inviting home. The Bruce House also houses the Ballroom, where dance classes are held, as well as four music studios, business offices, and the Woodcock Ceramic Studio.
Thanks to a generous donation by the Woodcock Foundation, the Woodcock Ceramic Studio was built in the late 1990s and opened in 2000. Prior to that, ceramics classes were held in the Bruce House basement. To make way for the new studio, the Beuchner Gallery and a visual arts classroom were relocated to the Drake House. The Woodcock Ceramics Studio provides a bright, clean space for exploring ceramic arts. It features ten pottery wheels, including a fully wheelchair accessible wheel, several portable wheels, a slab roller, an extruder, a pug mill, a glazing area, an electric kiln, and two portable raku firing kilns.
The Drake House was built in 1865 and named for James A. Drake, who owned the home from 1893 to 1902. Drake served as president of First National Bank and founded MD Walker and Co., later known as Corning Building Company. The latter continues to shape Corning’s physical development and helped supply materials for the center’s renovation.
Drake sold the house in 1902, and it was converted into affordable multi-family housing, which helped bring many new residents to Corning. By the 1990s, however, the building fell into disrepair and was sold at auction to Market Street Restoration Agency.
Fire & Restoration
Together, Market Street Restoration and Steuben Church People decided to renovate and use the property as a shelter. An arsonist, however, set fire to the building, destroying the rear portion and severely damaging the roof. The City of Corning planned to demolish the structure, but a Market Street Restoration board member donated roofing material, and the 171 Cedar Arts Board of Directors purchased the property. Cedar Arts began capital fundraising and invited Boston firm Ann Beha & Associates to develop renovation plans.
The Drake House
The Drake House was originally designed in the Gothic Revival style with influences from the Stick style popular after the Civil War. The original structure featured a slate roof and floor-to-ceiling windows. Like the Bruce House, the Drake House had beautiful fireplace surrounds, two of which were restored. The architects preserved the feel of the home’s original exterior, but the interior was redesigned in a contemporary, functional style, all while maintaining the building’s historic features and homey charm.
The Drake House features a dance and fitness studio, a community theater that seats up to 120, a large ensemble room for choral and theater rehearsals, classrooms for language and private music classes, and the Houghton gallery.
At Home with the Arts
Since it first opened in 1968, 171 Cedar Arts Center has served as a warm, friendly home for the arts. Whether exhibiting local artists or offering classes to the community, 171 continues to provide unique opportunities for experiencing and creating art.
Art Powered Forward
With the help of its many supporters, 171 Cedar Arts Center has grown into an award-winning multi-arts organization featuring exceptional arts instruction, contemporary exhibitions in the Houghton Gallery, and live performances in the Drake House Studio Theater and in the community. 171 is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, making the arts accessible to everyone.
171’s Annual Reports
2021-22 Annual Report
2020-21 Annual Report
2019-20 Annual Report
2018-19 Annual Report
2017-18 Annual Report
2013-14 Annual Report
2012-13 Annual Report