Purpose & History

Purpose
Our purpose, according to our bylaws is:

To collect and preserve all material which is deemed to be historically relevant – and most particularly all the materials which relate to the history of Conneaut Lake, as defined by the lake and its surrounding shore line with adjacent lands, boroughs and townships.

To promote and encourage historical research and cultivate public knowledge and interest in local history; to acquire, by purchase, gift, device or otherwise, the title to, or the custody and control of historic places; to preserve and protect buildings and sites of historical interest; to collect and preserve records, photographs, videos, relics and other things of historical importance; to mark places of historical interest with suitable monuments or plaques.

History
When Gale Fales and Bobbie Moyers were taking a walk one day, they were discussing the rich history of Conneaut Lake and wondered why the borough had no historical museum like other towns did.

They stopped to visit George Rutherford and inquired what he thought. Was there enough interest to think about starting a historical society?

The call went out to a group of people the trio thought may be interested in forming a society.

The answer was a resounding “yes.”

The trio became three of the charter members of the organization and remain active today.

That was in late 1998. By mid-June of 1999, the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society was a reality. Through the generosity of Attorney Bill Gregg, who donated his expertise and legal skills, we achieved our non-profit status. Shortly thereafter, we applied and received our 501-c – the federal designation to allow all donations to be tax-exempt.

While we are a historical society, we like to think we are a real part of a thriving community.

It was the generosity of Conneaut Lake Kiwanis and Conneaut Lake Lions club, which allowed us to proceed so quickly as both organizations quickly opened their wallets and made the necessary donations to allow us to achieve our legal standing so quickly.

We met for several months at local churches and a funeral home before we made our new meeting home at the Conneaut Lake Park Fire Hall. The fire department generously allowed us to have our board meetings and general meetings at their facility – free of charge.

Initially, we met at Hotel Conneaut for our monthly programs during the summer, but when the park experienced some problems, we chose to make the fire hall our permanent meeting place. It is a wonderful site and the firemen are very accommodating to our needs.

As soon as we were formed, we began receiving artifacts and it soon became evident we needed to find a place to call home – a home where we could display the many artifacts were we quickly amassing.

The long-range committee, headed by Hale Jenkins, came up with a list of 15 potential sites for consideration. We listed the pros and cons of each and determined the most feasible one was the old community hall – owned by the borough, but for the most part sitting idle. One portion was used as a police station and the gymnasium used occasionally by organizations.

Council was prepared to demolish the facility and the society approached council with the idea of leasing the building to the society. After several months of negotiations, we entered into a lease agreement for 10 years – at a cost of $1 a year with the option to renew.

We opened our new home in spring of 2003. Through a $25,000 grant obtained through the efforts of Sen. Bob Robbins, we were able to do some major remodeling, including lowering the ceiling to preserve heat and new wiring. Another $10,000 grant obtained by Rep. John Evans and a $5,000 grant from Rep. Michele Brooks have allowed us to continue to make improvements.

As we continued to make the improvements, we decided we wanted to make it our permanent home and negotiated with borough council to have it deeded to us. They graciously agreed to deed the building to us – with the stipulation that should we choose to move or disband, the building ownership reverts back to the borough. We cannot sell it nor can we lease to anybody else.

We are elated with our home and are happy to show not only the building – but our heritage - off.

Our membership today totals more than 330.