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Museum aims to acquire new location

The North Tonawanda History Museum will announce plans Saturday to acquire 54 Webster St. to house the Lumber City History Center -- a welcome center for the Twin Cities of North Tonawanda and Tonawanda.

The announcement by the museum's board of trustees and its Facilities Committee will be made during the museum's fourth annual North Tonawanda Birthday Party -- a special celebration of 150 years of the shared history of North Tonawanda, Wheatfield and the Town and City of Tonawanda

The free event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the ballroom of Lodge 860, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, 21 Main St.

Museum officials envision keeping the welcome center-museum open every day of the year.

John H. Kolecki, museum vice president, said Thursday that the building once housed the old G.C. Murphy five-and-dime store. Negotiations are under way with the owner, Vadin Gorobets of Valley Village, Calif., Kolecki said.

The 40,184-square-foot building is far larger than the museum's current home at 314 Oliver St.

Museum members, meanwhile, hope to raise funds for the project, which has received a $10,000 grant through State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, and $5,000 from the Niagara County Legislature for the project.

The members of the museum's board, its Advisory Committee and Lumber City History Center Committee believe the facility will increase foot traffic in the downtown historic district, which boasts the Riviera Theatre, restaurants and an art gallery, according to Donna Zellner Neal, director of the museum.

Fundraising won't get under way until the site is purchased, Kolecki said.

"It's rather difficult for people to dig into their pockets and give out for something that is intangible, that you can't see," Kolecki said. "I'm very enthusiastic about it. I'm hoping we have a museum.

History Museum Treasurer Donald R. MacDonald said he is enthusiastic about the project.

"We're attempting to, at some point and time, to renovate the building and restore it to its original appearance," he said.


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