History of the Willard-Case Mansion

The Willard-Case Mansion was home to two prominent Cayuga County families for almost 100 years. The Willards and Cases, related through marriage, were both wealthy and philanthropic and left a considerable legacy to their community.

Construction of the mansion began in 1836 by John Seymour, but the financial Panic of 1837 cost Seymour his fortune and by 1839, he was forced to turn the building over to the bank.  Sylvester Willard and his father-in-law Erastus Case bought the partially completed mansion in 1843 for $4,500.

Walter Long, Founding Director of the Cayuga Museum

In 1934, a group of Auburn citizens were looking for a building to house a museum and art center. Case offered them the mansion and carriage house for the new museum, which opened in 1936 as the Cayuga Museum of History and Art. Many “modern” updates were made to the mansion to make it fit the needs of the new museum. The founders of the museum, as well as Case, never planned on the museum being an historic house museum, instead wanting a community space used to feature changing historical and art exhibits as well as hosting musical performances, art classes, and lectures. While you won’t find much furniture here, many small reminders of the original 1836 mansion remain.

Click through the images below to travel back in time through the rooms of the Willard-Case Mansion. If you'd like to immerse yourself further, these pages are part of an in-person QR Code Tour (#Mansion2Museum) which you can take when you visit the Museum! Bonus content is available when you take the tour in-person.

Floor Plans

The Library

The Parlor

The Fountain

New Dining Room

Greenhouses

Doctor’s Office and Tiffany Window

Second Floor