Kenan Center: A Heritage Treasure

It has been called a hidden treasure. A historic gem. The cultural heart of the community. Situated on 25 beautiful acres in Lockport, New York, above the historic Erie Canal, the Kenan Center provides art, education, and recreation programs that attract thousands of visitors each year.

The elegant Kenan House—a stunning example of late 19th century Italianate architecture—serves as a year-round gallery displaying the works of local, regional and national artists.

Surrounding the house are landscaped formal gardens—a favorite for summer weddings—that provide a serene respite every season of the year. Two original carriage houses now serve as the Kenan Center Montesorri Preschool and Taylor Theater for adult and family performances.

Cross the expansive lawn and you’ll find the Kenan Arena, site of the Kenan Center’s thriving recreational programs and special events such as the annual 100 American Craftsmen show that attracts artists and visitors from across the country. Whether you’re a collector of quality crafts, history buff, art aficionado, garden walker, theater lover, or backyard traveler, a visit to the Kenan Center is one that is rich in experiences every season of the year!

Learn more about the Kenan Center and our programming at


Scientist, engineer, farmer, and philanthropist, William Rand Kenan, Jr. had his roots in North Carolina where the Kenan family was prominent in state politics and the founding of the University of North Carolina.

Having participated in the discovery of acetylene gas while in college, Mr. Kenan went on to pursue a career as a chemical and mechanical engineering advisor, traveling the world to assist in the development of plants for the carbide industry. In the early 1900s, Mr. Kenan and two of his sisters came into a substantial fortune as a result of inheriting the bulk of the estate of their sister, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, who had married wealthy industrialist and Florida land developer, Henry M. Flagler.

Mr. Kenan gave generously to the city of Lockport that served as his home for more than 50 years, including gifts totaling more than three million dollars to schools, churches, hospitals, and community organizations.

Before his death in 1965, Mr. Kenan deeded his home and property to the First Presbyterian Church for development as a community center. A significant part of the estate became the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

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