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As the great-grandson and namesake of Paul Weiss (1865-1941), who served as mayor of Dunkirk 1928-1931, and on behalf of our members, staff and volunteers, thank you for your support and interest in the Dunkirk Historical Society & Dunkirk Historical Museum. By working together we have achieved an impressive series of successes, despite the challenges of the past two years.
On August 28, the community proudly visited to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the international relief effort from Dunkirk to Dunkirk in 1946, which united distant peoples in the cause of world peace. The work of all those who made this unique event possible cannot be summed up here, but the opportunity was recognized by our fellow citizens of Dunkirk, France, and we salute the first participants from the WWII era who have all but died.
Some facts about our museum, our exhibitions and our collection:
¯ While our non-profit organization was founded on March 12, 1973, the Museum was created in 1980 when the city of Dunkirk generously made available a historic building adapted to our needs, which has since become a deposit for our collection, exhibitions and archives.
Today it is a jewel of the Washington Park district, and an icon of Dunkirk’s resilience.
¯ Generous funding from the city and the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation has helped us maintain the 1930s architecture of our home at 513 Washington Ave. This is particularly visible in our facade, with repainted panels, repaired bricks, glazed windows and renovated doors. The renewed landscaping is now cultivated and still reminds us of the talents of Sam Mancuso and Mary Rees of the Revitalize Dunkirk beautification committee.
¯ Our permanent collection of ALCO-Brooks works and railway artifacts in the museum tells an important story about the growth and times of our first community, and is among the best in the state. Roy Davis and Roger Schulenberg, along with Scott Symans, help preserve our railway heritage with the maintenance and operation of the Brooks Fairground & Museum Display. While the entire basement exhibit is being refreshed for an even more impressive exhibit, we took the opportunity to install new flooring and repaint the walls, funded by a grant. of the NCCF.
¯ It would not be an exaggeration to say that our much needed rear storage garage, funded largely by member donations, has freed up valuable space in the Museum and has led to the reorganization of archived material, as well. than to the rediscovery of some “buried” artifacts.
¯ We were delighted to receive the donation of a very large historical cabinet filled with artifacts from Stanley Star’s Cliffstar Company, whose long-standing civic legacy of the family as entrepreneurs, employers and benefactors is virtually unmatched in this community. Thanks, Stanley!
Funding, grants, contributions and donations:
¯ In addition to funds received by the city, a major source of funding has been the Community Development Block Grant program, administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Add to that the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, where our Robert Harris Endowment generates investment income. We also thank KeyBank and Lake Shore Savings Bank, and member donor appeals were also well received.
¯ Members and donors can pay with PayPal, and more of our new members are now signing up and paying online. One goal is to add our gift shop to our website with digital images from our collection. Members have access to Time Travelers (https://timetravelers.mohistory.org), a free reciprocal membership network for museums, sites and historical societies in the United States, comprising over 300 sites across the country . That alone is worth the cost of your membership fee, offering many exclusive perks and privileges such as reduced entry and discounts on gift shops at other museums.
Officers, directors, employees and volunteers:
¯ We praise the talents of Executive Director Jane Babinsky, Administrative Assistant Lynn Kovach, Curator Ellen Bailey, Archivist Wayne Mori, Photo Archivist and City Historian Diane Andrasik, Researcher Denise Griggs , Bill Meister and Joe Andrasik in building maintenance, multitasking Al and Judy Hollander, Peter Komada, Jr. who digitizes archives, Victoria Johnson for cataloging, and our other teammates. Their important work never ends.
¯ As I complete my term on the Board of Directors after four years, I would like to acknowledge the service of my fellow outgoing members, Vice President Frank Beach and Brandon Katta. Thanks also to Treasurer Magaly Myers, Secretary Sally Graves, Trustees Mary Carney, Wayne Mori, Raymond Rushboldt and Sharon Perdue, joined last year by Beverly Slichta-Cusick and Roger Orcutt. We still have a few free places, and to find out more about this rewarding role and the opportunity to contribute to the preservation of Dunkirk’s history, send an e-mail to: [email protected]
Until 2022 and beyond:
¯ While the Museum’s original electrical system has performed well being over 90 years old, the time has come for a modern upgrade that can handle the extra loads of our high-tech electronics, as well as our staff’s desire for air conditioning during the hot Dunkirk summer months. If you would like to donate, fundraising is underway to subsidize the cost of labor for electricians.
¯ Taste of Prohibition II will offer two “medicinal” whiskeys, plus auction of a rare quarter bottle of 1933 whiskey Government authorized ban at 100 proofs. Future events may include: a walking tour of the Washington Park neighborhood, resuming our historic home tour, a mobile pub crawl of historic tavern sites, and new special exhibits.
¯ Visiting the now reopened Museum is a way to reconnect with your community, and we look forward to seeing you. Hours of operation are 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesdays; phone 716-366-3797. Visit our improved website and Facebook page for events, news and updates.
Thank you all for caring about Dunkirk’s history and supporting our mission to preserve it.
Paul Scheeler was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Société historique de Dunkerque in 2021.