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 Diachun, Secretary

James Frank, Treasurer


Michael Blenk

Deborah Breed 

David Caldwell

Paul Casseri

Harry DeBan

Aaron Dey

Thomas Faith

Stephen Jackson

Everell Jewett

Richard Lewis

Craig Maefs

Arthur Mazenauer

Ginger McNally

Thomas O'Donnell

Thomas Palmer

Neil Patterson

Paul Reid

Jodee Riordan

Richard Roach

David Rogers 

Bruce Sutherlland

Arthur Werner     




Old Fort Niagara Board of Directors- Candidate Biographies

Michael Blenk is a native of Long Island who has resided in Youngstown since 1979.  He and his wife, Diane, have been OFN members in the ensuing 39 years.  Mike has a strong avocational background in the Lenni Lenape people and has excavated prehistoric sites in southern New Jersey.  His work is published in the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey. 

Mike joined the Association's Board of Directors in 1986 and has served on the Personnel and Development Committees.  He chaired the 1813 Flag Committee and was a member of the recovery team which traveled to Megginch Castle to repatriate our colors.

Mike holds engineering degrees from the John Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.  After a 36 year career with DuPont Chemicals, he retired in 2002 as an Engineering Fellow.   


Deborah A. Breed Deborah and her husband, Daniel, reside in Youngstown Estates since 1997. She was born in Lewiston and attended Lewiston-Porter school system and Niagara Community College. She was employed by Rite Aid Corp. for 39 years, until her retirement in 2011. Debbie is a member of First Presbyterian Church Youngstown. She currently spends her time with interests in kayaking, downhill skiing and grandmother to nine grandchildren. Debbie is finishing her second term on the Old Fort Niagara Association Board of Directors, where she serves on the Development Committee.


David Caldwell is President of Wolfe Lumber Mill, Inc. in Gasport, NY.  He is a Life Member of the Old Fort Niagara Association and a member of the Board of Directors since 2000, currently serving as Chairman of the Building & Grounds Committee and is a member of the Publications, Membership and Long-Range Planning Committees.  A graduate of Oswego State with a history degree, Mr. Caldwell is an active volunteer, and a member of many other regional historical associations and sites.


Harry M. DeBan was first elected to the Old Fort Niagara Association's Board of Directors in 1983 and has served as Chairman/Publisher of the Association's publications program from its beginning in 1984, designing and coordinating the production of all OFN works.  Additionally, he is Editor of Fortress Niagara, serves on the Museum Committee, and has worked on the By-Laws Committee and numerous special events over the years.

Harry holds a B.A degree in Political Science from Niagara University (1975) and is active in Scouting, serving as the International Representative for the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America.  A resident of the Town of Wheatfield, he is also active in several living history groups as well as other church, civic, and professional organizations.

Richard Lewis is a lifetime member of Old Fort Niagara and has studied The Fort’s history throughout his entire life.  He served as President and CEO of The Talking Phone Book and retired in 2009.  He underwrote the SPCA adoption center in the Galleria Mall and helped to achieve the building of Tonawanda All Heroes Memorial.  Mr. Lewis has achieved many awards including ADP Publisher of the Year, Forty under Forty, ADP Top Achievement Award, WNY Family Business of the Year, Alfred University Galanis Award for Excellence, Williamsville School District Alumni Wall of Honor, and The Lifetime Outstanding Service Award.  He has also served on the boards of United Way, United Cerebral Palsy, Make A Wish Foundation, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Association of Directory Publishers and Williamsville Education Foundation. 

Thomas A. Palmer is a retired attorney and a Member in Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, a full-service law firm with offices in Buffalo, including other cities in New York, Florida and Kansas. He previously was a Partner with Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP, and prior to that he worked as a C.P.A. with Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co.  He has been a member of the Board of Directors since 1999. 

Mr. Palmer holds a B.S. in Accounting from Canisius College, and an M.B.A. and J.D. (magna cum laude) from the University of Buffalo.  He mentors small business owners through the University at Buffalo School of Management Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of University of Buffalo Alumni Association, Secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the University at Buffalo of Management Alumni Association, a member (and past chair) of the University at Buffalo Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Advisory Board, and Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of Delta Development of Western New York, Inc.


David Rogers is a co-founder and member of the Board of Directors of Life Storage, Inc. (formerly Sovran Self Storage), one of the country’s largest providers of self-storage services. From 1984 to 2012 he served as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer and as its Chief Executive Officer from 2012 to 2019. The Company went public in 1995 (NYSE: LSI), and now owns or operates over 750 storage facilities in 28 states and Canada. Life Storage employs over 2,000 people with almost 300 of those working in Western New York. Dave currently serves on the Boards of the Catholic Health System of WNY, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Old Fort Niagara Association, and the Life Storage Foundation for a Better WNY, and the Finance Council of the Diocese of Buffalo. He previously was a Trustee of Nativity of Mary Parish, a Member of the Board of Advisors of the National Association of Real Estate Trusts, and served as a Director of the Self-Storage Association and of Computers for Children. Dave is a graduate of Maryvale High School and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has two children and two grandchildren, and lives with his wife Joan in Clarence, NY.

Jodee Riordan is a graduate of the University at Buffalo and is employed at Yorkville Sound, Inc. In addition to serving on the OFNA Board since 2017, she has served three terms on the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education (2010 to present), currently serving her seventh term as Board President. She writes a weekly column for the Lewiston-Porter Sentinel, is a frequent contributor to Buffalo Spree/Forever Young magazine and hosts LCTV’s Your Public Schools. She has also served on the Village of Youngstown Recreation Commission, Board of Directors of the Friends of the Youngstown Library, Lewiston-Porter Academy of International Business and Finance, Youngstown Yacht Club and is engaged with many other community organizations and initiatives. She is actively involved with the Town of Porter Historical Society, volunteering for ten+ years as a tour guide and interpreter. She once had the honor of portraying Betsy Doyle for the dedication of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation historic marker in the Village of Youngstown.  Jodee lives in the Village of Youngstown with her husband, Christopher, and their four children. 


Neil Patterson, Sr. was born in Niagara Falls in 1949 to Franklin and Isabelle Patterson. He attended the Tuscarora Indian School until 5th grade and graduated from Niagara Wheatfield High School. Immediately after graduation, Neil was accepted in the Carpenter-Millwright Union out of Lockport, NY. He worked his way from apprentice to general foreman for Higgins Erectors and Haulers until he retired in 2002. Neil has been married for 45 years to Francene and they have three children and five grandchildren.

Neil is very active at the Tuscarora Baptist Church. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1972 and has been a deacon since 1987. At the church, Neil was the AWANA Commander for many years and was also on the Western New York AWANA Board of Directors. He continues to volunteer his time with AWANA ministries with Returning Hearts at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Neil is also very active at the Tuscarora Nation, where he was placed on the Council of Chiefs in 1980. He is the Director of the annual Tuscarora Nation Picnic that is held on the Nation every July. Neil has been a consultant for the building of the Tuscarora Nation House (2011), the Tuscarora Heroes Monument in Lewiston, New York (2013) and the Nooherooka Monument in Snow Hill North Carolina (2013).

In his spare time, Neil raced stock cars at the local dirt tracks until his racing retirement in 2013. He also helped begin the Tuscarora Marching Band that later merged with the newly reorganized Iroquois Indian Band in 1991. He is currently Vice-President of the band. Neil also meets regularly with the New York State Judges and Tribal Nations. Most recently, Neil was elected to be on the Old Fort Niagara Association Board of Directors.


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

The Fort is open year round with the exception of New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

  • Jan - June 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • July - Aug - 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sept - Dec - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

General Admission



Children (6 to 12 years old):

$  9.00

Children (5 and under):



Please note: Ticket sales end 30 minutes before closing time.


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!


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