January, 2020

With another year in the history books, we want to update our supporters on the many good things happening at the Dunkirk History Museum, and our prospects for the future.

Improvements and repairs to the museum, additional professional staff, enhanced programming, new and expanded funding sources and renewed sponsorships have likely made this among the most productive periods since our founding on March 12, 1973.

First and foremost, we appreciate the support of the citizens and civic leaders of the City of Dunkirk, who have been strong partners in our success. Maintaining our museum at 513 Washington Avenue – a building dating to 1930 – and the Brooks Locomotive Exhibit at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds is expensive, and we are grateful for your generous support. The museum’s permanent collection of ALCO-Brooks Works and railroad artifacts also tells an important story about the growth and times in our early community, and is among the finest in the state.

Grant-writing has increased our funding resources, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, IBEW, BECC Electric, Scott Electric and KeyBank. We established the Bob Harris Endowment at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. Fund-raisers included our 9-hole old-time golf outing, the “Rocking to Nature,” end-of-summer event at Greystone Nature Preserve, and “Taste of Prohibition” with rare whiskey to fund eventual return of the Neptune Fountain.

We acquired a major museum-grade display case and museum-quality archiving supplies. Building upgrades include a new roof, electrical and lighting system, re-glazing and painting of windows, signage and masonry repair to the front facade. With the loss of the shrubs thoughtfully donated by the Women’s Club some fifty years ago, we are looking for a charitable landscaper to improve our curb appeal.

Volunteer work on the Brooks Locomotive Exhibit included repair of the forward cab windows of the locomotive, repainting and repairs to the box car, replacement of roof boards, repair of west cupola windows and painting of the caboose, plus installation of electrical conduit for the camera security system. We are seeking volunteers to assist Roy Davis and Roger Schulenberg with maintenance and operation of the Brooks Exhibit.  

Under the expert guidance of our new executive director, Jane Babinsky, we have professionalized many functions and organizational affiliations. For example, we joined the Museum Association of New York. In September, we hosted a team from the federally-supported Collections Assessment Program, which formulates recommendations to assist museums in preserving and improving their collections. Jane has also diversified our finances by submitting successful grant applications.

We commend the efforts of administrative assistant Stephanie Pulvino, curator Ellen Bailey, archivist Wayne Mori, photo manager and city historian Diane Andrasik, building manager Bill Meister, newsletter assistant Vikki Johnson, researcher Denise Griggs, multi-taskers Al and Judy Hollander, and Peter Komada, Jr. for digitizing the archives, and all our other helpful volunteers and contributors.  Roy Davis and Roger Schulenberg put in many hours managing and maintaining the Brooks Locomotive Exhibit and the Brooks Room located at the Washington Avenue museum.

New board members include Frank Beach and Treasurer Magaly Myers, who join continuing directors Mary Carney, Secretary Sally Graves, Brandon Katta, Wayne Mori, Raymond Rushboldt, Sharon Perdue and Paul Scheeler.  Thanks as well to outgoing board members, Greg Catalano, Richard Titus and Ryan Corbett, who served as Treasurer.

We’ve updated our website, making our archives accessible online as we continue to digitize our collection, and now publish a bi-monthly newsletter. 

Anticipated events for 2020 include further special exhibits, a mid-year or summer gala, our popular bi-annual Tour of Historic Homes on September 12, and “Taste of Prohibition II” on December 5 featuring more newly-discovered medicinal whiskey.

Visiting the museum is a great way to connect with your community. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Mondays & Fridays, 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, except holidays; phone 366-3797.

We look forward to seeing you and appreciate your generous ongoing support!

James Hurtgen,  President Emeritus