"This pavilion is more than a little gem of a building. It is also a symbol of a determined little town's rebirth, and the unusual role that architecture played in it."
Architecture, May 1989

"A delightful reinterpretation of the Victorian pleasure pier."
Jury comments, Wood Council Awards

"I wanted to share my happy news! My boyfriend proposed to me on the Seneca Lake Pier. The fact that it happened in such a beautiful place made the moment even more special. Thanks for such a wonderful setting!"

The Seneca Lake fishing pier and pavilion were designed to be the principal symbol for Watkins Glen, a small village in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, and to provide public access to its lakefront.

Watkins Glen (population 5,000) lies at the south end of the deepest lake in North America. Forty miles long and two miles wide, with hills cultivated in vineyards on either side, Seneca Lake provides a fine natural panorama which, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, helped make it a popular resort. However, Watkins Glen fell into decline and increasingly relied on agriculture for its economic well being.

In 1980, a local public agency, citing poor agricultural prospects, rising unemployment, a falling population, and deepening economic depression, cast about for a way to turn around the county's troubled economy. The agency settled on renewed tourism as the most feasible route to prosperity, but the task would be challenging, as the "Glen's" tourist appeal was by then largely gone. With dogged determination, much waterfront land was acquired from Conrail for a public park. The first project planned for the park was a fishing pier with a pavilion at its end. The pier and pavilion give the public direct access to the water and create a symbol of the new, memorable Watkins Glen.

The fishing pier and pavilion now attract 70,000 visitors annually to the Watkins Glen lakefront. With these elements in place, substantial development has followed. Nearby projects include a nineteenth-century warehouse renovated into a farmer's market, new elderly housing, a breakwater, a marina, several retail establishments, an excursion boat, a sound and light show, and expansion of the lakefront park.