Immersed in culture at La Casita

Immersed in culture at La Casita

Now more than a decade old, the SU-sponsored culture center has become a lively space for honoring Latino traditions and history.
Published: December 2, 2021
La Casita Cultural Center

It can be difficult to describe the La Casita Cultural Center’s purpose in one word.

Inside the 100-year-old Lincoln Center building on Otisco Street near Syracuse’s Westside neighborhood, there is an art gallery, a classroom, a bilingual library, a performance place, a workshop and a kitchen regularly open to Syracuse University students and faculty along with local residents.

Now a decade old, La Casita’s wide variety of features and resources have established this center as a lively space for Puerto Rican and other Latino communities to gather, honor traditions, host events, play music and celebrate their culture.

Explore La Casita

Scan the QR code or click the photo below for an interactive tour of the cultural center. This experience is optimized for desktop computers and VR headsets.

QR Code for La Casita Virtual Tour

The inspiration

La Casita, or “the cottage,” refers to guest houses detached from the main house that typically include Spanish-Mediterranean aesthetics and are used to host events and accommodate long-term visitors.

Former SU architecture professor Jon Lott drew inspiration from this concept and developed a model for the center that incorporates the casitas’ outdoor and indoor aspects intended to host activities and bring people together.

La Casita resembles the traditional Spanish structures with typical vaulted ceiling designs and built-in shelving for a more spacious feeling. As the center developed since its 2011 opening, SU faculty, staff, students and local residents helped design new spaces and features.

Visiters dance to the music at the 10th anniversary event of the La Casita Cultural Center, Sep 18, 2021

Patrons dance to the music at La Casita Cultural Center's 10th anniversary celebration on Sept. 18, 2021.

Puerto Rican musician plays with his band at the 10th anniversary event of the La Casita Cultural Center, Sep 18, 2021

Puerto Rican musicians perform during La Casita's 10th anniversary event in September.

Culture on display

Visitors to La Casita can explore several collections of Latino art and cultural artifacts featured in the center’s art gallery. Displayed on the blue shelves facing the entrance is the Danza exhibition that includes dresses dancers wear and drums musicians use in the traditional performances.

Right next to the Danza Exhibition, visitors will find an array of artwork made by artists celebrating Latino culture and accompanying documentaries of how each artwork was produced.

Further down a hallway is the center’s Béisbol Exhibition where visitors can learn about Latino baseball teams and the history of the sport in Latino communities.

The Bilingual Library is found across from the wall of art exhibitions with shelves stacked of published children’s books made by Youth Program volunteers. La Casita regularly offers free educational and cultural activities for children on Fridays and weekends.

Adjacent to the library, the Culture Exhibition is dedicated to Latino religion and festivals and features a mix of Catholic paintings and photos of people celebrating their spirituality.

About this project

The virtual experience was created by combining 3,000 photos into an interactive 3-D model through the photogrammetry process. Learn more about how the project was designed and produced.


Thank you to Bennie Guzman, Teresita Paniagua and the La Casita staff for their assistance during the reporting of this project, plus Profs. Dan Pacheco and Jon Glass for help developing the digital presentation.