The Old Fort Niagara Association

The Old Fort Niagara Association operates Old Fort Niagara under license from the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Association is responsible for opening the Fort to the public on a regular schedule, providing visitor services, maintenance and security, upholding State standards for historic preservation, providing interpretive programming and managing and caring for a large collection of artifacts and documentary materials. The Association also manages an ambitious publications program and conducts archaeological research in cooperation with Buffalo State College. 

Since its founding in 1927, the Old Fort Niagara Association has operated Old Fort Niagara in a self-sufficient manner. The organization does not receive substantial operating support from government. Income is derived from admission fees, shop sales and community support. Annually the Fort welcomes almost 100,000 visitors from throughout the world. The organization is made up of some 900 members.

The Association is classified as a not-for-profit organization under section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Service.


The Association was founded in 1927 in response to fears among local citizens that the historic structures of the Old Fort would be allowed to fall into ruin. The members and leadership were able to convince the United States Army (which then owned the Old Fort) that Federal funds should be used ot restore the historic buildings and walls. The Association also raised money from among the citizens of the Niagara Frontier and used it to match Federal appropriations. Between 1927 and 1934, the Army and the Association obtained the money necessary to restore Old Fort Niagara to the condition in which it appears today.

As restoration neared its end, the Army began looking for the best way to operate the restored fort as a museum. An agreement was reached with the Association, and, in 1931, the first official license to operate the Old Fort was issued to the Association. When the Army transferred the Fort Niagara Reserve to the State of New York in 1948, the Association continued to operate and maintain the site.

Mission of the Old Fort Niagara Association

The Old Fort Niagara Association functions under a formal "Statement of Purpose" which provides the rationale for all decisions relating to the historic site and its museum. The stated purposes of the Association are:

Preservation Function: To preserve, restore and maintain the historic site and structures of Old Fort Niagara. The site comprises roughly 23 acres of land and Lake Ontario bottom land at the mouth of the Niagara River. Included in this area are fortifications, outworks, six 18th century buildings, significant archaeological remains, and the early post cemetery.

Education Function: To foster, encourage and promote a deeper understanding of Old Fort Niagara and its significance to the history of the Niagara Frontier, the State of New York, the United States, and Canada. This shall be accomplished by means of research, archaeology , exhibits, programs, publications, and any other appropriate educational techniques.

Collection Function: To establish and maintain collections of objects, books, documents and illustrations relating to the history of the site of Old Fort Niagara and associated historic sites along the Niagara Frontier.

Old Fort Niagara Association Board of Directors


Bruce Newton, President

Toby Jewett, Vice President

Elizabeth (Betsy) Diachun, Secretary

James Frank, Treasurer


Michael Blenk

Deborah Breed 

David Caldwell

Paul Casseri

Harry DeBan

Aaron Dey

Thomas Faith

Karen Fenzl

Stephen Jackson

Everell Jewett

Elizabeth Kahn

Richard Lewis

Craig Maefs

David Martin

Arthur (Skip) Mazenauer

Thomas O'Donnell

Thomas Palmer

Neil Patterson, Sr.

Paul Reid

Jodee Riordan

David Rogers 

Bruce Sutherland    

Board of Directors

Candidate Biographies

Elizabeth "Betsy" Diachun worked at OFN for 13 years before retiring in 1991 as Assistant Director.  She has served on the Board since 2003 and has lived in western New York since 1961.

     Because she was responsible for the tourism aspect of the Fort, Betsy remains involved in many programs and agencies which promote Niagara County as a tourism destination.  Currently she is on the Niagara Area Foundation Board, the Niagara Beautification Commission and the.  She volunteers weekly at the Niagara County Historical Society.  In all her work with community organizations she hopes to improve the quality of life within the County.

     Betsy is married to Peter Diachun and resides in the Village of Lewiston.

Paul J. Casseri – Mr. Casseri has been an educator for 31 years.  He began his career as a social studies teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools in 1987.  In 1998, he moved into the area of educational administration and since that time has served as a building and central office administrator. In October 2005, he began his work with the Lewiston-Porter Central Schools, Youngstown, NY as High School Principal. He has served as Superintendent of Schools for Lewiston-Porter Central since July 1, 2015.

Education for global understanding and international studies has been a focus of his work throughout his career.  As a teacher he co-directed a Costa Rica exchange program at South Park High School. At Lewiston-Porter High School he has initiated an extensive international studies program.  Since 2005 exchange partnerships have been established with schools in China, Japan, Argentina, France, Germany and Turkey. Most recently Lewiston-Porter Central Schools has begun to enter tuition paying F-1 Visa students from across the globe. In the area of CTE, Mr. Casseri spearheaded the development of a National Academy Foundation (NAF) program at Lewiston-Porter, L-P Academy of International Business and Finance. The Academy is a three year school within a school program that focusses on International Business, with an extensive internship experience for cohort members in the field of International Business. 

In 2008, Mr. Casseri, was a presenter at the International Forum: Innovation of Secondary Education and the Development of Schools in Tianjin, China. In 2009 he was honored as Administrator of the Year by the Niagara University School of Education. In 2013 he was an invited speaker at the International Society for Educational Planning on the topic of International Education in K-12 programs. He has also been honored by the American Association of Teachers of French Western New York Chapter for his promotion of French Language and Culture. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in History from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master of Education in Social Studies from the State University of New York College at Buffalo and has finished coursework toward his EdD. in Educational Administration at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

Everell W. (Toby) Jewett from Grand Island High School in 2001 having spent 32 years teaching regents and advanced placement biology.  He also taught biology and general science at Wilson Central High School for 2 years prior to Grand Island.  Toby was a Student Teacher Supervisor at Buffalo State College from 2002 - 2013.

                Toby has been a member of the Old Fort Niagara Association since 1983, a life member since 2007 and has served on the OFN Association’s Board of Directors since 2010.  He’s been volunteering since 2002 to include: coordinator of Sutlers for French and Indian War, tour guide, tour guide training, winter camp, haunted fortress, castle by candlelight, holiday open house, French heritage day, Lockport day, advocate’s dinner, Pouchot’s landing weekend, War of 1812 re-enactment and OFN at the Knox.  Toby helped with the Maritime Exhibits in the HI.  Toby taught sailing and ran the Junior Sailing Program at Youngstown Yacht Club for 20 years.  He was also an Instructor Trainer for the US Sailing Association.  Toby has been active in the Town of Porter Historical Society, on the Board of Directors from 2006 -2013 and served as President of the Board from 2010 - 2013.  

                Toby and his wife Ginny reside in Youngstown.

Aaron Dey is an award-winning conventional and digital marketing expert with years of experience marketing both start-ups, not-for-profits and established businesses. He co-owns his own business services and consulting firm called US Organic Leads Corporation, as well as for Canadian clients. Currently Dey, who resides in Youngstown, NY, sits on the Board of Directors, and is the marketing committee chair for Old Fort Niagara Association. Dey works  hand-in-hand with the staff with promotion and marketing initiatives and loves to help put the Fort's best foot forward to reach current and new markets of potential guests. Besides the Fort Board, Dey also sits on the Board of the Lower Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, The Great Lakes Seaway Trail and has been involved with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area's initiative to connect communities, heritage and business from Niagara Falls to Youngstown, NY through the 'Discover Niagara Shuttle', since before its operational launch. Dey is an avid promoter of business development and tourism in the area. Besides family, friends and helping worthy not-for-profits, he finds pleasure as an avid sailor, walking he and his wife's two sister Standard Poodles around the Village, and as the Old Fort Niagara Association's token Canadian. - “Beauty Eh!”

Skip Mazenauer: Skip Mazenauer is the publisher and CEO of Niagara Frontier Publications (NFP)  which produces 4 weekly newspapers, special magazines and a well-established website:  He has served as an officer of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce in his 40-plus years of membership. Skip has also served as an officer  of the Grand Island Rotary club and was honored twice by his nomination as a Paul Harris Fellow. Additional, he helped establish the Grand Island Builders.  Skip has served in several capacities with the Niagara County Builders Association including president for 2 terms and lobbyists in Albany, representing the NCBA in Legal Defense and Legislative Issues committees on the State Political Action Committee. Additional community and professional organizations in which Skip has served are the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce, Both the Wheatfield and Town of Niagara Business and Professional Associations.  He also served on the Greater Lewiston Business and Professional Association Board of Directors for 5 years.  While a director of the GLBPA, Skip assisted in the transition to the Lower River Region Chamber of Commerce and served as a chairman for 2 terms. Skip is currently on the boards of Old Fort Niagara, Aquarium of Niagara, Art Park, the Lewiston Jazz Committee and New York Press Association. Skip is also serving as state representative for weekly newspapers of WNY and is actively enjoying the Niagara University Family Business Association.

Karen A. Fenzl joined Key Insurance & Benefits Services (wholly owned subsidiary of KeyBank) in December, 2007 after serving various roles with Brown & Brown of New York.  Karen had been a principal and cofounder of Niagara Insurance Group, a firm that was acquired by Brown & Brown in 2004.  

Karen has been working in the insurance industry for more than 30 years and has worked primarily on business insurance and risk management programs for clients in WNY.  She spent 17 years with M&T Insurance Agency, formerly, Matthews, Bartlett & Dedecker, as Commercial Lines Manager, Marketing Manager and Marketing Specialist.  Her expertise is in providing sound insurance advice and customer service, marketing, claims review management and contractual risk transfer reviews for business clients.

Karen has an associate’s degree from Bryant & Stratton College and earned the Certified Insurance Counselor designation in 1993.  Other designations she has earned are the Associate in Insurance and Construction Risk Insurance Specialist.   Karen is a 2002 graduate of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Management, University of Buffalo.  

Karen has three daughters and resides in the Town of Hamburg.  She is an active member of our community and has volunteered for a number of non-profits through fund raising efforts, various committees, boards, etc.  A few are listed below:

United Way of Buffalo, Inc., Annual Fund Drive

Insurance Women of Buffalo, Inc. (NAIW); Various Committees, Officer

St. Peter & Paul Church, Hamburg; Religious Education Leader, Friends of Night People

Sisters Hospital Foundation, Annual Golf Outing committee, Board Member

Everywoman Opportunity Center, Group Leader

Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, Special Committee Member

Seneca Babcock Community Center; Mentor program through Mentoring Matters

WNY Women’s Fund, WSMO Event committee

Charter School of Applied Technologies, Career Speaker, Literacy Volunteer

Mike DeDario is a resident of Youngstown where he lives with his wife and four children. Mike received a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies from Canisius College and a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Niagara University. He is a former Social Studies teacher at Grand Island High School.

For the past 8 years he has been a stay-at-home Dad to his four young kids.  Mike has spent 5 years as a member of the Youngstown Yacht Club Board of Directors, and has served as its Commodore for the past 2 years. He has been an active fundraiser for the Youngstown Community Boating Foundation (formerly Youngstown Junior Sailing Foundation) and St. Peter’s RC School, where he and his wife organize the annual golf tournament. In his free time, he enjoys sailboat racing, golf, and entertaining family and friends. Mike is excited about the opportunity to join the team at Old Fort Niagara.

Timothy S. Adamson is a graduate from Brockport State College. Tim works for Flowserve, a world leader in Pump and engineering technology with locations in more than 50 countries. He is the Area Distribution manager. He is an active member in his community serving as a board member to St. John Lutheran Church, Town Councilman for the Town of Porter, Deputy Mayor for the Village of Youngstown, Zoning board and recreation department for the Village of Youngstown. Tim, with the aid of many volunteers, built the recreation building at Veterans Park.



Please direct any inquiries regarding OFN operations or employment to: 

Old Fort Niagara    P.O. Box 169 Youngstown, NY 14174-0169 USA  
tel 716.745.7611 fax 716.745.9141 or email us

Hours of Operation

January through March, Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. (Closed Monday-Thursday)

April- May, Open Wednesday through Sunday. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Memorial Day to Labor Day, Open 7 Days per week.

September- December, Open Wednesday through Sunday (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. 

The fort will be open Christmas week, Monday through Friday, December 26 - 31. 

General Admission



Children (6 to 12 years) 


Children (5 and under):






Support the Fort

Old Fort Niagara is operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1927. We do not rely on tax dollars. Instead, the Fort is funded through a combination of admission fees, museum shop sales, and charitable contributions.

Donate today!


Old Fort Niagara Logo

Newsletter Sign-Up

Keep up to date on Old Fort Niagara events and happenings! Sign up here for our e-newsletter.