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The mission of the North Tonawanda History Museum is to assemble, preserve, protect, and exhibit collections pertaining to the history of North Tonawanda, its people and community life, focusing especially on our rich immigrant heritage and role as an important shipping and manufacturing center strategically located on the historic Erie Canal and Niagara River in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a research and educational institution, we plan to be both an active participant in the historical and cultural tourism focus of North Tonawanda and a focal point for students of all ages to participate in historical studies and activities of the City.
The North Tonawanda History Museum will provide leadership to the North Tonawanda community in the promotion of historic awareness and interpretation of the people's history in the community.
Since October 2003, our Online Museum has existed and constantly evolved to meet the expectations of those we serve. We hope that your first--and all subsequent visits will be enjoyable experiences--and that you will come away with a greater appreciation for the rich and unique history of North Tonawanda.
When we began, we operated out of our homes for the first six months, graduating to donated facilities on Oliver Street, and then after a year to being paying tenants on Oliver Street. We had our rapidly growing collections stored all over the City.
We have worked diligently to locate the ideal permanent home for the North Tonawanda History Museum and are fondly naming our building in honor of the City's past history as the Lumber Capital of the World.
Our first interest group meeting was on September 10, 2003. Our first Board of Trustees meeting was on October 9, 2003. Our Provisional Charter as the North Tonawanda History Museum was granted on April 20, 2004, and our 501(c)(3) status was approved by the Internal Revenue Service retroactive to April 20, 2004. We were granted an extension of our Provisional Charter on December 16, 2008, to December 16, 2013. Once we are firmly established in our new home on Webster Street, we will apply for our Absolute Charter.
We made great strides in our first five years, going from a grassroots group of citizens with a vision to an organization which has earned two or three awards from our peers each year of our existence. Our publications during this period have earned us the respect of area historians as well as the general public.
Our Board of Trustees has matured as well, going through a preliminary period of growing pains with the History Museum organization leap frogging along in accomplishments as the developing Board of Trustees attempted to keep up with the organization to our present strong individually involved and committed Board of Trustees. From an initial interest group of six in June 2003, we have grown to over 4,000 strong, with members all over the United States, in Canada, Great Britain, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Dubai. We communicate by regular mail, air mail, e-mail, through the North Tonawanda History Museum Online and via our Facebook page.
We occupied the first donated by David Zobrist and then rented from Paul Brown facilities at 314 Oliver Street from August 1, 2004 until January 18, 2009. Although we occupied 54 Webster Street in some form from July 2008 on, we officially moved in on January 18, 2009. The closing on the purchase of the building was delayed while we dealt with heating system repairs caused by the former tenant's having turned off gas service to the building when they moved out two years previous, and the paperwork involved with a mortgage assumption and our Charter Extension.
Enjoy the North Tonawanda History Museum Online, visit it often, and do visit our new home in the Lumber City History Center at 54 Webster Street in the Downtown Historic District of North Tonawanda!
Thank you all for your continued support, at whatever level you are able. We are YOUR North Tonawanda History Museum!
- Donna Zellner Neal
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