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Auburn promotes itself as History’s Hometown, but not all of the people who have made significant contributions are getting equal recognition.

Theodore Case was born in Auburn 130 years ago, on Dec. 12, 1888. He opened the Case Lab in 1916, where he worked with materials affected by light. He started developing his sound on film process in 1921. His experiments led to several successful inventions that put sound and movies together. Unfortunately, even back then, he did not get the recognition he deserved for his efforts.

In 1926, Case sold his sound on film patents to the Fox Film Corporation. Because of the money and royalties he received from that sale he was able to build several Auburn buildings that are still in use today. We now know them as The Cayuga Museum of History and Art, with its carriage house being used as a performance venue. This was the site of Case’s original laboratory. Also, Seymour Library, Casowasco, which was his summer home, and his primary residence, the Case Mansion on South Street, which is now operated as a retreat center by the First Presbyterian Church.

Case was born in Auburn, he worked in Auburn, and he is buried in Auburn at Fort Hill Cemetery. I would like to see him recognized by history’s hometown in a more significant way. We see how his experiments have revolutionized our world every time we go to the movies or turn on the TV. That to me is one more way we can attract tourists to Auburn.

And maybe we could even get December 12 to be recognized as Theodore Case day.

Joe Sarnicola


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