Aurora, Cayuga County, New York

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The Village of Aurora, a college town in Cayuga County, is in the Town of Ledyard, north of Ithaca, New York, United States. The village had a population of 720 at the 2000 census, of which more than 400 were college students.

In 1980 its Aurora Village-Wells College Historic District, with more than 50 contributing properties, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From 2001-2007 redevelopment of historic properties in the village by entrepreneur Pleasant Rowland and the Aurora Foundation earned compliments, as well as provoking citizen concern, a lawsuit joined by state and national preservation organizations, and national media attention.

Wells College, an institution of higher education for women founded by Henry Wells in 1868, is located in Aurora. It became coeducational in 2005, and since then enrollment has risen.



Prior to European-American settlement, a major Cayuga Indian village, Chonodote, stood near the present-day site of Aurora village. Chonodote was destroyed by the Sullivan Expedition in 1779 during the American Revolutionary War, when the Cayuga were allies of the British army. Some members of the Cayuga tribe returned after the war to live on a Seneca reservation that once included the north end of Cayuga Lake.

Part of the village was within the Central New York Military Tract, which the United States used after the Revolutionary War to pay off veterans with deeds to land. The Tract was part of the five million acres (20,000 km²) of lands which the Iroquois were forced to cede in the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. Many veterans from New England settled in the Finger Lakes area.

During the 19th century, the village was a minor center for manufacturing. A stopping point for canal traffic after the Cayuga-Seneca Canal opened, the village was incorporated in 1837. It became a port, shipping produce from farmers in the region up Cayuga Lake, then by the Erie Canal to other major markets. Academies and seminaries for basic education were established in 1800. Notable schools include Cayuga Lake Academy which was founded in 1797, chartered by New York State Regents in 1801 and remained and its second structure built in 1835 remained until the building was destroyed by fire on April 19, 1945.[1] Many prominent graduates attended the school including President Millard Filmore,[2] William Brookfield, the founder of the Bushwick GlassWorks and William E. Leffingwell (1855–1927), State Assemblyman and founder of the Glen Springs Sanitarium. In 1868 Henry Wells founded Wells College for the education of women.

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