Several Years in Development, New History Center Will Preserve Community’s Past
WANAKENA — A pair of Community Foundation grants will help bring the past to life at the Wanakena Historical Association’s new History Center, which officials plan to open later this year at 21 Second St.
The Foundation’s board of directors recently approved $16,000 in funding for the Historical Association. A $6,000 grant will fund equipment and supplies at the center and a $10,000 matching commitment will help build an endowment at the Community Foundation for the center.
Several years in planning, the project gained momentum after a group of partners stepped forward to purchase and restore the Second Street house to its original design. Construction began last year with renovations continuing through early summer. The center will feature a collection of exhibits, modern presentations and meaningful artifact displays tied to the region’s past while also promoting historical and genealogical research and local tourism.
“We are excited to deepen the long-term relationship of our two organizations as we continue to work with donors to build upon our investments in the people and places of Wanakena,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “The community’s history and heritage will have a stronger level of enduring stewardship because of these initiatives.”
Allen Ditch, president of the Wanakena Historical Association board of trustees, said the Foundation’s endowment match is a “crucial part of the association’s long-term plans,” especially in stewarding the maintenance of the center and operations.
“Without the Foundation’s grant, we could very well be unable to implement high-quality, electronic access to our collection and availability in displays,” Mr. Ditch said. “We hope to make this an exciting place to visit.”
Community volunteers came together 20 years ago to create the historical association and highlight the unique past of Wanakena and surrounding Adirondack communities. The organization developed a walking tour with interpretive kiosks and spearheaded restoration of the iconic Wanakena Footbridge after it was damaged in 2014, a project the Community Foundation supported.
The history center has garnered impressive philanthropic support. The organization also took thoughtful steps toward developing a strategic plan designed not only for the history center’s sustainability, but the agency as well. Embedded in that plan is an emphasis on building an endowment, which the association presently has at the Community Foundation, thanks to an anonymous donor.
Despite ongoing public health concerns, Mr. Ditch said he hopes the center can open for a preview this month and remain on track for a grand opening celebration in 2021.
“There are many people who believe in this area and want it to flourish. Our organization is one of the groups who can help bring tourists to the area,” Mr. Ditch said. “It’s a community that people recognize as a place to enjoy and visit. This is a special place.”
To join others in helping build support for the Wanakena Historical Association History Center and its mission, make gifts to the Northern New York Community Foundation, 131 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601. Secure online gifts may be made at nnycf.org. Gifts to the center’s endowment fund will be matched up to $10,000.
About the Northern New York Community Foundation
Since 1929, the Northern New York Community Foundation has invested in improving and enriching the quality of life for all in communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
Through partnerships with businesses and organizations, charitable foundations, and generous families and individual donors, the Community Foundation awards grants and scholarships from an endowment and collection of funds that benefit the region. Its commitment to donors helps individuals achieve their charitable objectives now and for generations to come by preserving and honoring legacies of community philanthropy while inspiring others.
The Community Foundation is a resource for local charitable organizations, donors, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations. It also works to bring people together at its permanent home in the Northern New York Philanthropy Center to discuss challenges our communities face and find creative solutions that strengthen the region and make it a great place to live, work, and play.