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Famous People of the Finger Lakes
Theodore Willard Case (1888-1944)
Born and raised in a large brick home at 203 Genesee Street in Auburn (Cayuga County), Case grew up when silent moving pictures were at their height. Fascinated with the idea that moving pictures might actually be able to “talk,” he worked out of a carriage house behind his family home where he had created a darkroom, chemistry lab, and recording studio, experimenting with different sound systems. Case was not alone in the race to provide viewers with sound, but he is considered the first to unravel the mystery of synchronizing sound and motion. He named this system Movietone, which was used by Fox Films (now 20th Century Fox) beginning in the late 1920s.
His family home later became the property of the Cayuga Museum of History and Art, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the museum began to assess what it owned. Since then, it has unearthed dozens of notebooks, thousands of pages of correspondence, and lab archives. It is now in the process of restoring the carriage house complex to turn the first floor into a community theater and cinema and the second floor into an exhibit of Case’s work.
When: 2nd Friday and Saturday in June
Where: Auburn Public Theater, 8 Exchange St., Auburn, NY 13021
Works of 30 minutes or less from filmmakers in Central New York.
Photo courtsey of the Cayuga Museum of History and Art.
Updated 5 April 2011