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

Officers

Bruce Newton, President

Toby Jewett, Vice President

Elizabeth Kahn, Secretary

James Frank, Treasurer

Directors

Timothy Adamson

Michael Blenk

Deborah Breed 

Paul Casseri

Harry DeBan

Aaron Dey

Elizabeth Diachun

Thomas Faith

Karen Fenzl

Elizabeth Kahn

Richard Lewis

Craig Maefs

David Martin

Arthur (Skip) Mazenauer

Thomas O'Donnell

Thomas Palmer

Neil Patterson, Sr.

Paul Reid

David Rogers 

David Truesdale

Old Fort Niagara Board of Director Biographies for 2022

Michael Blenk is a native of Long Island who has resided in Youngstown since 1979.  He and his wife, Diane, have been OFN members for the ensuing 34 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 resides in Youngstown with her husband Daniel. She was born in Lewiston and lived there until moving to Youngstown Estates in 1997. She 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, camping in the Adirondacks, grandmother to nine grandchildren and general CEO of 374 Dansworth Rd.

 

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 an attorney and a Member in Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, a full-service law firm with offices in Buffalo, Amherst, and other cities in New York, Florida and Kansas.  He is a member of its business law and merger and acquisitions groups.  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.

Neil Patterson was born in Niagara Falls in 1949 to Franklin and Isabelle Patterson. He attend 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 ofthe  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 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.

David Rogers was born and raised in Cheektowaga, NY and graduated from Maryvale High School and SUNY at Buffalo (1977).  He is a founder, Vice-President and CFO of Sovran Self Storage, Inc., a Buffalo-based real estate company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  He resides in Clarence with his wife Joan and their two children, Katelyn and Christopher.

 Mr. Rogers has served on the Old Fort Niagara Association's Board of Directors since 1995, and has served as past Treasurer for the Association.  Currently, he is a member of the Association’s Finance Committee, and Development Committee.

Mr. Rogers is a former Director of Computers for Children, and a board member of the Finance Council of the Diocese of Buffalo and the Sisters Hospital Foundation.  His other activities include working with youth hockey groups, volunteering with the Perry Project Outreach, & active involvement in numerous other professional organizations.

David Truesdale is a life long resident of the Town of Porter.  He graduated from LewPort High School and went on to study education at SUNY at Geneseo.  David started teaching 6th grade at Wilson Central in 1970.   During his 32 year career he taught 5th and 6th grade and served as Teacher on Special Assignment.  He retired from teaching in 2002.

Dave has been very active in service to the community.  He joined the Youngstown Fire Company in 1976.  He has served in numerous offices in the company including President, VP, Secretary Treasurer and Assistant Chief, to name a few.   In 1981 David was elected to the Office of Town Justice.  He has served in that position to this date.  He has mentored many of the new judges as they have been elected to the bench in their respective towns.

Dave’s connections to Old Fort Niagara have a very long history.  In summer of 1964, Dave started working at the Fort as a parking lot attendant.  As years went on he moved from the parking lot to the castle where he became a guide.  The next year he advanced to the position of Head Guide which he held until he began his teaching career.

“I had many interesting experiences while working at the Fort, but the scariest was the night that a friend and I slept in the castle on a night with a full moon.”  Dave has been a Life Member of the Association since 1968.

           

Harry Wright started his education at Erie County Community College and the University of Michigan. He then spent active time in the US Navy and eight more years inactive.

He joined Cannon Design and stayed for 15 years sitting on the Board of Directors and as Vice President. After this he formed my own construction management firm, Construction Management Services Inc. This company was one of the very first management companies in the region. It was dissolved in 2000, yet he continue to consult in the construction industry. He also spent 6 years on the Niagara Falls Country Club Board of Directors.

Now the majority of his time is spent working on the Historic Board where he assumed the role of Village Vice President. During this time he started the Town of Lewiston Historical Board in the role of Chairman.

 With his past experience and passion for local history, he believes that he  will be an asset to the Fort Niagara program.

 

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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
here:

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

Adults:

$17.00

Children (6 to 12 years) 

$12.00

Children (5 and under):

  FREE

 

 

 

 

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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