La Casita Cultural Center is located in the historic Lincoln Building in the city's Near Westside neighborhood with the purpose of advancing an educational and cultural agenda of civic engagement through research, cultural heritage preservation, media, and the arts, bridging the Hispanic communities of Syracuse University and Central New York. The Center is equipped with an art gallery, a classroom, bilingual library, performance space, workshop facilities, kitchenette, and meeting space.
The model concept for La Casita at Syracuse University can be traced to Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx, where more than 35 years ago, José (Chema) Soto set out to build a wooden structure similar to the houses that were once typical of the rural Puerto Rican regions and throughout the Caribbean. With the help of neighbors, La Casita de Chema (today, Centro Cultural Ricón Criollo) was created as a bright, lively, and sustainable space for Puerto Rican and other Latino communities to gather, celebrate their culture and traditions, host events, play music, dance, or simply visit. Following in these footsteps, Syracuse University established La Casita Cultural Center.
Initial funding for the renovation of the 100-year-old, former warehouse into mixed-use commercial and residential space came from Syracuse University. The project also garnered funding from the Round 2 Restore New York Communities grant awarded by the state to the City of Syracuse as part of a statewide initiative to revitalize urban areas.
La Casita's interior was designed by Syracuse University professor, architect Jon Lott, to honor the Center's mission in the New York City-based Casitas tradition. Jon Lott drew inspiration from the Rincón Criollo Cultural Center in the Bronx, and developed a model that incorporates the outdoor/indoor aspect of the original Casita. The Center's different spaces were designed with input from Syracuse University faculty, staff, and students, as well as from local residents of the Near Westside.
Board of Advisors
Bethaida González, VP Community Engagement at Syracuse University
Gerry Greenberg, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Humanities, Curriculum, Instruction and Programs, College of Arts & Sciences S.U.
Marilú López Fretts, Photojournalist, Project Assistant for City in Science, The Cornell Lab of Ontology
José Pérez, Esq., Vice President of Nosotros Your Latino Voice and of LULAC
Silvio Torres-Saillant, Professor of English, SU’s College of Arts and Sciences
Nina Vergara, Parent Partnership Program Coordinator for the Syracuse City School District
Contact: For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-443-2151. Follow us on Twitter: @LaCasitaCenter and find us on Facebook via La Casita Cultural Center Project