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Town history showcased in updated museum

COMING SOON — The town of Hamburg Historical Museum is located next to the Boies-Lord House Museum, at S-5859 S. Park Ave. in Hamburg. Photos by Jessie Owen.
HAMBURG — By the time spring rains give way to the warm rays of summer, the Hamburg Historical Society will welcome the public to enjoy a renovated and enlarged museum that will showcase the town of Hamburg and its vast history.

President Julie Howes explained that the process of putting an addition onto the existing South Park Avenue structure and renovating the interior has been in the works for two years.

The eight-acre location and original facade, built by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, has been in the local historical society’s possession since the 1980s. The original agreement noted that the Buffalo society could house its collection of carriages in the back portion of the building.

The Hamburg Historical Society had been the recipient of another property (of the same size) on Gowanda State Road, but Howes said that the board members finally decided that that location “was not conducive to a museum; it did not fit our needs.”

At that point, the South Park museum was open one day per week, but Howes said that it was not regularly staffed or promoted. The decision was then made to put an addition to the building and refurbish the site.

“We didn’t have a lot of volunteers,” she said. “Things had stalled. The new facility energized volunteers, and we now have a lot of help.”

The newly updated museum will house the historical society’s full collection, a library, and Town Historian Jim Baker’s office, which has already moved over from the Hamburg Library.

Howes said that the structure has been altered “to make better use of the space.” The kitchen has been redone and the library features a larger reference area complete with copier and computer.

Three onsite barns continue to house old agricultural equipment; Howes said that these structures are anticipated to eventually be part of the museum’s public offering. The hay barn is an authentic structure that was used to store and air hay.

The Spittler barn was named for Duke Spittler, a former historical society president and town conservation board member. The Yankee barn was discovered during the creation of the 18 Mile Creek Golf Course and was moved, board by board, to this location.

The society’s Erie County Fair historical displays are also stored in the barns; Howes said that a special feature is being planned for the fair’s 175th anniversary, this year.

That will include both the display at the actual fair and a feature in the museum. Although Howes did not reveal any spoilers, she hinted that old fair memorabilia will be part of these offerings.

The museum’s 40-by-74-foot addition and renovations are already complete. A dozen board members and volunteers show up, twice per week, to get the rest of the work done. Old store signs from all over town are currently being placed throughout the museum, for the public to enjoy.

ON DISPLAY — The historical museum’s meeting room features displays like the one shown above, which houses military memorabilia, such as uniforms worn by a former Hamburg High School principal.
Volunteers are combing through the existing collection to put together the displays, which will be revolving, and will feature new objects, from time to time.

According to Howes, the local society’s mission is to feature people who have lived in the town of Hamburg, as well as objects and ephemera that relate to the town.

The Hamburg Historical Society is chartered by New York state.

By early summer, the museum will feature more open hours, as well as tours by private arrangement, for groups.

Howes also said that it is her hope to open the museum for school trips.

When the building is completed, the society membership will be invited for a preview, before the museum is opened to the public.

In addition, the newly renovated building will be available for rent; a meeting room has been created, to use for events such as the society’s annual June dinner.

The historical society is not currently accepting donations of historical items, but Howes said that monetary donations are always welcome. Those can be sent to Box 400, Hamburg, NY 14075.

For more information about the Hamburg Historical Society, leave a message at 648-6320 or visit www.hamburghistoricalsociety.org.

The museum is located at S-5859 S. Park Ave. in Hamburg.
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