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HAL is celebrating 50 years. (Submitted logo)
HAL is celebrating 50 years. (Submitted logo)

Historical Association of Lewiston celebrates 50 years

Fri, Mar 17th 2023 11:00 am

Special events planned throughout year

Submitted by Kenneth Slaugenhoupt

Historical Association of Lewiston President

Back in 1972, a group of like-minded citizens, who loved Lewiston and its history, got together and shared a vision – a vision that would shape our community’s destiny for decades, maybe even centuries.

The Historical Society of Lewiston had already existed for 13 years, holding monthly meetings to learn about area history. There were people who belonged to the society and others with great unaffiliated interests in local history and, together, they worked together to purchase old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and transform it into a museum, which opened in 1973. The nonprofit Historical Association of Lewiston was established in 1986.

These many and varied people believed that Lewiston could become a cultural destination – a place where people would come from around the nation, and even the world, to learn about our fascinating heritage that impacted the development of the North American continent, from the first recorded human activity here 7,000 years ago, to the early French explorers, to more recently, becoming one of the major sources of green energy on the planet.

Discussions ranged from Lewiston being on the frontlines of an international war that determined the boundaries between Canada and United States, to being the last stop on the Underground Railroad for the enslaved seeking a new life of freedom.

The Lewiston Museum


As we celebrate our 50th golden anniversary this year, we continue to strive to be true to our founders’ vision and ideals. We are confident they would be pleased with our progress and Lewiston’s role as today’s cultural centerpiece of Western New York.

2023 marks our 50th year of actively gathering, accumulating, displaying, studying, researching and recording over 7,000 years of human activity in Lewiston. The efforts forward and our board of directors, members and volunteers steadfastly support this important work. Both the Town and Village of Lewiston provide critical support for our work. We seek to provide a sincere benefit to the entire community.

Last fall, this collaboration was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce through presenting HAL with its Chairman’s Award for all our efforts. This recognition is greatly appreciated.

In celebration of our 50th year, we invite the community to mark their calendars for all our events coming up through the balance of this year. Here are some highlights:

•April 23 is our first “Family Day Celebration at the Museum.” Although the museum does not open for the season until June, we are at work cleaning and organizing new displays for the chance to introduce this museum to a new generation of history buffs. Families are encouraged to come to the museum on that Sunday and see special displays and programs designed to entertain and educate patrons of all ages on how many important events occurred right here on the banks of the Niagara River. Open from 1-5 p.m., there will be refreshments and lots of enlightening fun.

The Lewiston Museum is home to a treasure trove of interesting, historic items. (File photos)


The museum will open June 6 through Labor Day, from 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

School children from throughout Western New York flock to the museum for private tours in the springtime. This year, we already expect over 400 students to learn about the Underground Railroad and other events through the efforts of our dedicated and talented curator, Mr. Tom Collister.

•On May 15, the Col. Bruce Sutherland Memorial Golf Tournament will be held again at the Niagara Frontier Golf Club. Proceeds from this event help keep our programs alive, and HAL donates funds to Downriver Post 7487 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to support its Sutherland Scholarship annually. Reservations are being taken now, so contact Collister at the museum weekdays after 1 p.m. for details.

We have room for 30 foursomes, and names are being submitted daily. A dinner of celebration follows, and everyone is invited to join there – whether you golf or not. Come down and try your hand at winning all or a share of $1,000 in a putting contest created and sponsored by Lee Simonson and his cohorts.

•Honoring our history involves honoring our citizens who have served our country through service in the armed forces. Therefore, we will be marching in the Memorial Day parade to solemnly acknowledge all our local heroes.

•Also starting in May, the popular Lower Landing Historic Tours will begin. This is a two-hour walking tour of the original Lower Landing, where Lewiston’s history was focused for thousands of years. This year, the first one will be on Saturday, May 13, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the flagpoles in Artpark’s Fourth Street parking lot. Contact the museum for details.

•In order to assure a sustainable source of talent and people to carry on for another 50 years, this spring we are holding a new member drive where we hope to enlist 100 new members to our ranks. Keep your eyes open for this great bargain of an opportunity.

•Remember, we hold free-to-the-public monthly meetings during fall to spring, with fascinating topics presented by talented and informative speakers. On March 23, Mr. Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara, will present “It is impossible for us to defend the country: The American Revolution on the NY Frontier.” Call the museum at 716-754-4214 for details.

Treasurer Brian Beebe does a superb job of bringing these programs right into our midst. Join us on the fourth Thursday of September, October, January, February, March, April and May.

“Lewiston Jeopardy” is a program that continues to draw rave reviews. You have seen “JEOPARDY!” on TV, I am sure, so Simonson has developed our own version, based upon your knowledge of local history. Even if that is limited, you will learn and laugh during this popular event, which will be held on Sept. 14. Teams enter to play to earn 2023’s bragging rights, together with handsome trophies to certify their knowledge. The audience gets to play along, also, with special audience participation questions. Beer and pizza served tableside will energize the night.

•Next October, we will offer a unique opportunity. Plans are underway for a Victorian high tea. Tickets will be limited so, again, keep your eyes open. Details will emerge very soon.

Throughout the year, we continue to maintain and celebrate our nationally renowned monuments: Tuscarora Heroes and Freedom Crossing. We gather in the spring to wash and wax these beautiful memorials to two unique and historically important elements of our local history. Volunteers are always welcome to join in the effort, which takes a Saturday morning only.

Please join us in celebrating our golden anniversary year, and become a part of our next half-century of preserving and promoting Lewiston’s rich heritage.

•The Lewiston Museum is located on the corner of Cayuga and Niagara streets, kitty-corner to KeyBank’s parking lot. Visit www.historiclewiston.org for more information.

Volunteers with the Historical Association of Lewiston coordinated the Lewiston bicentennial celebration last July. (File photos)

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