Last updated: 1/18/2012
Jamestown, New York
Street Address
Fenton History Center-Museum & library
67 Washington St.
Jamestown, NY 14701
Mailing Address
67 Washington St.
Jamestown, NY 14701
Admissions
Adults: $5.00
CHildren: 4-12 years old $4.00
Under 4 Free
Staff
Joni Blackman, Director
Description

The Fenton History Center - Museum & Library is a local history museum and research library that concentrates on southern Chautauqua County NY and Jamestown NY. The museum & library are housed in the 1863 Italianate Villa style home of former NYS Governor Reuben E. Fenton (1865-1869). The house was also the last office of the Grand ARmy of the Republic (GAR), the military veterans agency that oversaw the Civil War soldiers. THe museum represents the Victorian era, settlement times and local history through period rooms (both restored and recreated) and many different exhibits. The Jamestown area has a rich history in politics, industry and transportation. The local history library is also a rich resource for genealogy research. The library holds over 7,000 volumes and the archive has over 700 manuscripts. The Fenton is currently finishing up a $150,000 federal grant to provide Internet access to the library's card catalog. Expansion of the facility is on the horizon, as well as some additional staff and programming. This will all be firmed up in the strategic planning process.

History

The Fenton Historical Society began in 1963 out of the threat of urban renewal and the placement of a 4 lane state road through the Fenton Mansion. The mansion was and is owned by the City of Jamestown. It was a war memorial and meeting place for the many veterans groups starting in 1919 when the city acquired the mansion. A concerned group of citizens rallied the city to save the building from destruction in 1963 and the Society became a NYS Chartered institution in 1964. It has since grown a collection of over 50,000 artifacts, 10,000 photographs and a 7,000 volume library with a 700+ manuscripts archive. The membership of 400, staff of 13 and volunteers provide educational services to over 12,000 students, 3,500 onsite visitors, and 12,000 website visitors.

Artifact Collections

THe artifact collections range from day-to-day objects to the Gov.'s chair with the NYS seal in the upper left corner. The collection has over 50,000 pieces that show the diverse industry (furniture, manufacturing, tools, voting machines, cars) of the area. Transportation by train, steamboat, trolly cars and bicycle are well represented in the collection. The tourism industry dating back to 1875 is evident in the many items that supported the grand hotels and other tourist interests of Chautauqua Lake. Chautauqua Institution is on the northern shores of the lake.

Research Collections

The research collections concentrate on the local history and genealogy. The local history special collections include print materials and manuscripts that are personal and industrial in nature. There are microforms and electonic CDs. The genealogy materals support the adjacent geographical areas and the common migration routes to and from JAmestown and Chautauqua County. The collections have a large amount of Swedish genealogy.

Educational Programs

Please see our website for a full listing of our education programming.

Governance

Board of Trustees 12 2005 will see a new Strategic planning process that will most likely last through September.

Library

Access: General Public, Students, Scholars

Appointment required: No

Publications

  • Newsletter 3 times per year
  • Annual Report
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