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COVID-19 Updates
July 2020 Update and 2020 Board Report


Good News!!! Gateway Harbor of the Tonawandas has won the 2020 ERIE CANALWAY NATIONAL HERITAGE AWARD OF EXCELLENCE! “...Heritage Award recipients remind us that our past can serve as the bedrock of our future.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Tonawandas where “Decades of planning, robust citizen engagement and waterfront investments have catalyzed the rebirth of the Tonawandas from rust belt communities to a vibrant gateway to the Erie Canal” states the formal brochure. And I’d like to think the Society’s stewardship of the Long Homestead and Museum, our beautiful Historical signage project and our participation in summer cultural tours were positive factors in getting this award. That said, Congratulations to both communities for all their stellar efforts over the years – let’s keep it going!

This distinguished honor serves to underscore the relevance of the Historical Society’s efforts to keep our history alive and inspires us to continue researching and archiving our unique and fascinating past.

Other news: At the July trustees meeting it was decided to keep our facilities closed except by appointment, although volunteers continue to work on projects. Florence Beamer and her family power washed the Resource Center and attacked the weed problem, city workers repainted several of the historical markers around town, and the Garden Club planted donated geraniums and hosta at the museum. Specials thanks for their efforts despite this brutal heat wave. Ned and his crew continue archiving and Skip continues his research for virtual Warrior Walks. Alice has made arrangements to obtain the roll top desk and bookcase used by the Wallenmeir family (John Wallenmeir was a former City of Tonawanda politician - more on this later) and Carole is preparing (and sanitizing) the Homestead in hopes of a late summer opening. Access is currently impeded by the construction of the wayfaring station at the foot of Fillmore at East Niagara Street. This is a Ralph Wilson Foundation project.

We will be devoting the September issue of the Lumber Shover to the Long Homestead in celebration of the Society’s 40 years of stewardship.

Final good news note: We received a $5000 donation from a former North Tonawanda resident and loyal Society member. What a generous and timely gift! We deeply appreciate this support and that of others who are concerned about the impact of this pandemic on non-profits within the community- not just financially but spiritually as well. Thanks for lifting us up!

LEFT: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still good deeds being done! In June, Flo and Gene Beamer were assisted by Austin, Alex and Adam Rudnick who were putting in some service time to remain active members of Starpoint High School’s National Honor Society. They power washed the entry at the Resource Center, prior to it getting a fresh coat of paint and spruced up the Center’s grounds of last year’s outdoor debris.

RIGHT: The station sign in front of the museum at 113 Main Street was one of several City of Tonawanda historical markers repainted this summer.


Hello all! We hope this communication finds everyone well and able to venture out into this quasi-normal world. Despite continuing restrictions, Society volunteers remain active archiving, responding to inquiries, and preparing for the next phase of reopening.

The June meeting of the Board of Trustees was held in-person, at the sanitized Resource Center in the large foyer. The motley crew of colorfully masked Trustees social distanced themselves amidst the Tiebor seal display and costumed manikins, glad to “see” and hear each other at last. First order of business was a Health and Safety Plan for our three facilities. We will be providing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers at the Museum and Resource Center. Once we enter Phase 4 of the Erie County Reopening Plan, we will begin to allow members to visit the museum on an appointment-only basis. Members are asked to call or email (preferred) the museum at least a week in advance so volunteers can arrange a meeting. This is especially important for out-of-town members planning to visit the museum. Individuals doing research can call ahead and have volunteers pull material to expedite your project and reduce the time at the museum. Masks are required and a sanitizing station is provided. Regularly scheduled hours are suspended until further notice at the museum and the Long Homestead. The Board also voted to have a professionally produced documentary on the Long Homestead in celebration of the Society’s 40 years of stewardship. (Anyone know Ken Burns?) We want to preserve the story of the site and its families for future generations.

GOOD NEWS: We have been awarded an $1800 grant from the Pomeroy Fund for NYS History. The funds must be used for the purchase of video equipment, camera, tripod, microphone, lighting, and software program, to enable us to produce videos for posting on YouTube. This will be a challenging summer but our goal is to have the August Warrior Walk our first video production. Stay tuned.

Enjoying our Summer Lumber Shover games? Let us know what you find most engaging – trivia, the “What Is It, Where Is It?”, word search, matching challenge? Look for more games in August plus featured articles including a reprint of a Tolerable Tale by Willard Dittmar about the 1918 Spanish Flu. Seems history is repeating itself in more ways than you might realize – a conspiracy theory blamed the Germans (now it’s Chinese), everyone wore masks, no hand-shaking, constant hand washing, and a local government ban on large assemblages within the Twin Cities including all theaters, moving picture shows, churches, Sunday Schools, public & private schools, saloons and dance halls. Plus...North Tonawanda City Historian, Joseph Midura, relates a poignant story about how his father’s family endured deaths and enforced quarantine in 1918 - fascinating real-life experiences.

In closing, a heartfelt thank you to those concerned members who have made special donations to the Society to help us weather this pandemic shutdown. Your loyalty and good-will continue to inspire us.

Stay Safe! Stay Well! And may we all meet again soon!

HSOT Board of Trustees
Alice Roth, President

Official Home:  The Historical Society of the Tonawandas, Inc.
Museum and General Office:  113 Main Street, Tonawanda, NY, 14150-2129
(716) 694-7406     Email  tonahist@gmail.com
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