The Fenton History Center will be celebrating 50 years in Jamestown this year, beginning with the grand opening of the recently renovated Hall House research center.
The grand opening, which is free to the public, will run from 5-7 p.m. Friday. Tours of the facility will also be available to the public.
"The Fenton History Center has needed space for a long time, not only to take care of the collections, but to work with the collections," said Joni Blackman, director. "We purchased the Hall House a number of years ago and have renovated it for our purposes, and it's finally ready. The research center has been open to the public since January, but we wanted to wait to have the grand opening until now so that it would coincide with the kick-off of the Fenton Historical Society's 50th anniversary."
A team of volunteers led the charge when it came to readying the Hall House as the new home for the Fenton History Center's library and research materials. In early January, area residents began to work with employees of the Fenton History Center to transfer books from the library to their new home in the research center. A grant from state Sen. Catharine Young's office was used to buy the building, and between that and a variety of other funding sources, the Fenton History Center was able to convert the Hall House into a usable space for storage, offices, and a library and research center.
According to Blackman, the event will feature remarks from Sen. Young, and representatives from the foundations that helped make the renovations possible will also be on hand.
"We'll even have historical reenactors of William Hall and Gov. Fenton that will be here on Friday," said Blackman. "We wanted to take the opportunity to recognize all of the volunteers that have helped get the Hall House research center to this point, and we want to recognize the people that helped us set up the initial endowment fund for upkeep of the Hall House."
Prior to being owned by the Fenton History Center, the Hall House was an assisted living home owned by WCA.
"We're pretty sure that when the building became an assisted living facility, it opened sometime around this week in 1957," Blackman said.
"This event is really just a great big thank you for everyone that has helped us get this far," said Blackman. "It definitely wasn't cheap and it needed a lot of hands - it's like that saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Well this time, it took an entire city to raise a historical society."
The Fenton History Center is located at 67 Washington St. and the Hall House can be accessed from the parking lot of the Fenton mansion or the driveway, located on Forest Avenue. For more information about the center, call 664-6256.