Historical Society needs volunteers

The Johnstown Historical Society & Museum at 17 William St., Johnstown — as seen Monday — is looking for volunteers for many of its efforts. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Historical Society and Museum is in dire need of volunteers for many of its ventures for both its buildings and upcoming events.

“We’re trying to ramp up what we’re doing,” society board Vice President Helen Martin said Wednesday.

Martin says there are considerable demands in keeping up with the non-profit society’s three properties. They are: the Johnstown Historical Society & Museum, 17 N. William St.; Drumm House on West Green Street; and the James Burk Inn at 200 S. William St., near West Montgomery Street.

The society building on North William Street serves as its center. The museum covers 300 years of local history, housing the cradle for the children of Sir William Johnson and Molly Brant, snowshoes of Nick Stoner, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s piano, and several other interesting historical items.

Drumm House — one of the oldest buildings still standing today — was built in 1763 by Johnson for his first school teacher, Edward Wall. Sir William Johnson opened it as the first public school west of the Hudson River.

James Burk Inn was built in 1765, and is now in need of some repairs, according to its Facebook page.

“We always have a need for volunteers,” Martin said.

Volunteers wishing to help out the society with its buildings and activities can contact Martin at (518) 762-7638. The society also can be contacted at (518) 332-7695. The society board meets openly to the public at 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the James Burk Inn.

The Johnstown Historical Society has been a longtime community organization striving to preserve and promote the rich heritage of the city of Johnstown, from Colonial times to the present.

“We really need someone to come on the board for buildings and grounds,” Martin said.

She said a volunteer is needed to serve as a person to prioritize what repairs need to be made to the society’s properties. But, she said anything the society does is on a strictly volunteer basis.

“We’re not in the financial situation to pay a paid staff,” Martin said.

Martin said the society especially needs people to help out with yardwork, and eventually will be seeking out volunteer painters.

Drumm House, she said, needs minor repair work on the exterior.

Meanwhile, Martin said that the society is continually attempting to better itself. For example, she has applied for a grant to help the organization establish a website.

The society is currently involved in a renovation campaign called “Saving Johnstown’s History One Brick at a Time.” Residents have the opportunity to purchase a commemorative brick which will be installed in front of the Drumm House, making them a part of helping to preserve some of the city’s rich history. The effort is helping to preserve all three historical buildings the society owns.

Martin pointed out that the society was involved in the June 16 Hands-On History Day at the Johnson Hall State Historic Site.

“We’re looking to encourage our membership,” she said.

She said people in the area who love history and want to help out can either attend society meetings, join the board, or simply volunteer their time in different ways. Just by “being available” for events, she said this pool of volunteers will be invaluable to the society’s mission.

“We’re looking to establish a volunteer list,” Martin said.

The Johnstown Historical Society will be starting up its popular Johnstown Cemetery Tours, she said.

The society will conduct its annual dinner Oct. 13 at the Holiday Inn. This year, the society will honor retiring state Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport.

“He’s always been such a strong supporter of the museum,” she said.

By November — although the date hasn’t been set yet — Martin said the Festival of Wreaths is coming back. The society held the popular event last November at the James Burk Inn. All proceeds benefited the group’s efforts to restore local landmarks, including the historic inn. The Colonial-themed event involved a selection of unique wreaths for sale during an open house.

The Johnstown Historical Society & Museum also plays a big role in the city’s annual Colonial Stroll, this year set for Nov. 30.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Josh Bovee

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