A Sneak Peak at the New History Museum in North Tonawanda

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

The new location for the North Tonawanda History Museum will be opening at the end of the month and workers say it will be dramatically different from the old location on Webster Street.

“We are right on schedule with where we thought we would be for a late September opening,” said Howard Roeske, Executive Director. “We are starting to building the new exhibits now.”

The new location, 712 Oliver Street, will have actual bowling lanes and exhibits about North Tonawanda that have never been seen before.

It is being described as a mix of old and new history that will really give people a true understanding of the area.

“We have some story boards and artifacts that we are excited to share with residents,” said Roeske. “Our reference library is pretty much all set up. We will have an entire gallery area that will tell the story of North Tonawnada as it was from pre-recorded history all the way up until the middle of last century.”

The museum will also have a community room to be used for fundraising and a special part dedicated to the police force. Roeske says rooms in the museum will be opened up if different community groups want to use the space.

“Because of the bowling lanes we will also have a sports area with high school and semi-pro jackets and things that we will be putting up. We also have a jacket from a major league baseball player umpire who was from North Tonawanda,” said Roeske.

The bowling lanes will be available to use but he says only for school groups and other special occasions. Even if you had previously been to the museum, there is plenty new material to see.

“Research is telling us that Niagara County was pretty much a war zone and there were not many residents here,” said Roeske. “It was a hunting area that was fought over constantly. Well will have displays of the ice age, natives, European explorers and settlements which will end with about the 1812 time period.”

The museum will also have story boards of the canal and the lumber industry. At one time North Tonawanda was the fastest growing city in the state; bringing in ‘big business’ to the area like banking and the chocolate industry.

“We will be having a special section for Wurlitzer and another area where people can read about what they have looked like throughout our history said Roeske.

He admits there is still a lot more to do before the opening at the end of September but promises it will be a ‘new and improved’ to enrich and educate people of all ages about the rich history of North Tonawanda.

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