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Grand Island Historical Society Since 1962

News Page 2021-2022
PO Box 135
Grand Island, NY 14072


E-Mail

Previous Historical Society News Page



River Lea - The Grand Island Historical Society restored and maintains the farm house known as River Lea and located in Beaver Island State Park. It was built on Lewis F. Allen's property, Allenton Farms, by his son, W. Cleveland Allen. Today it is owned by New York State.

SOCIETY OFFICERS 2022: President - Curt Nestark (716-864-8697); Vice President - Programs - Adele Upton (716-773-5847); Recording Secretary - Denise Dewey (716-773-6699); Corres. Sec./Newsletter - Mary Cooke (716-255-5838); Treasurer - Arlene Ehde (716-773-3881)

Membership Form - Please Join
Directions To River Lea      Mission Statement
       Grand Island Historical Society & River Lea History
Grand Island History - Published 1898 By Truman C. White
Jim Fisher's Avocational Archaeology & Lithic Technology Web Site
Grand Island History and Photos (Update 9/20/09)
River Lea Artists - Photos - Paintings - Artists James Edward Montanari - Eugene Matthew Dyczkowski ("Dick")




Open House at River Lea - October 2022

    The Grand Island Historical Society will have an Open House on Sunday, October 16, 2022 from 1:00-4:00 PM at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park. Costumed docents will greet you for a tour of the historical farmhouse. There will be a special display of uniforms, medals, and other memorabilia honoring our military.




Grand Island Historical Society Meeting - October 2022

    Thursday, October 6, 2022 - 7:00 PM General meeting and program at River Lea. Our guest speaker will be Don Dwyer, singer and songwriter from the Buffalo area. He will share Music and Stories of the American Civil War.




Grand Island Historical Society Autumn Tea - September 2022

    Saturday, October 8, 2022 - NEW EVENT!!! Autumn Tea, 12:00-2:00 PM, $25. Program entitled “The History of Handkerchiefs” will follow the tea. Reservations are required by calling Denise at 716-773-6699 by October 1.




Grand Island Historical Society Open House - September 2022

   On Sunday, September 18, 2022, River Lea Historical Museum in Beaver Island State Park will be open from 1:00-4:00 PM. Costumed docents will greet you for a tour of the historical farmhouse. A special exhibit of vintage furs will be on display.




Grand Island Historical Society Donation - August 2022

From Left: GIHS President Curt Nestark & Carter Dawson.

   Carter Dawson came to the Grand Island Historical Society 4th Grade Tour this year and then attended the society's June Yard Sale. He wondered what the money was raised for at the sale, and when he found out it was to pay bills, he wanted to help. A few weeks later Carter participated in the GI Chamber Kid Biz program and sold raffle tickets for a prize raffle. On Tuesday, August 9th he came to the GI Historical Society Board meeting at River Lea and presented GIHS President Curt Nestark with a $100 donation. Many thanks to Carter for his hard work and donation.




Grand Island Historical Society Installaton - June 2022

Curt Nestark with original ink drawing of River Lea.

Top row: Arlene Ehde - Treasurer, Adele Upton - Vice-President, Curt Nestark - President.
Bottom Row: Jean Brighton - Membership, Denise Dewey - Recording Secretary, Mary Cooke - Corresponding Secretary.

Dennis Upton at Joseph Ellicott.
Mary stewart Photos.

    The Grand Island Historical Society held its installation dinner on Thursday, June 2nd at River Lea, their museum in Beaver Island State Park. Officers were recognized and President Curt Nestark was presented with an original ink drawing of River Lea. Past President Carolyn Doebert was given the drawing in 1994 for her devotion to the GIHS and River Lea and bestowed it to President Nestark for his long tenure and dedication.
    A special guest entertained with a portrayal of Joseph Ellicott by GIHS member Dennic Upton. Mr. Ellicott was a surveyor, city planner, land office agent, lawyer and politician, known for laying out Batavia and Buffalo in 1800 and advocating for the Erie Canal.




Grand Island Historical Society Yard Sale - June 2022


   The Grand Island Historical Society Yard Sale Fundraiser is outdoors, at the corner of Fix Road and Baseline Road at the Shipman Farmhouse on Friday & Saturday, June 3 & 4, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. each day. It will be held rain or shine.




Grand Island Historical Society News - May 2022

Save the date!    The Grand Island Historical Society Yard Sale Fundraiser is outdoors, at the corner of Fix Road and Baseline Road at the Shipman Farmhouse on Friday & Saturday, June 3 & 4, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. each day. It will be held rain or shine.




Grand Island Historical Society May Meeting - May 2022

   The Grand Island Historical Society's May meeting will take place on Thursday, May 5th at 7:00 p.m.at River Lea farmhouse in Beaver Island. Our speaker will be Jerry Puma who will speak on the Larkin Company. He will have a variety of artifacts on display to view. Refreshments follow the meeting! Free admission for members, $5 donation for all others.




Grand Island Historical Society High Tea - April 2022


   There are open spots available for High Tea on Saturday, May 14 at noon at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park. Call Denise Dewey at 773-6699 to reserve your place. Tickets are $25. A delicious and beautiful menu is planned and a program entitled "Hanky Panky" will follow the tea.




Grand Island Historical Society News - April 2022

   Save the date! The Grand Island Historical Society Yard Sale Fundraiser is outdoors, at the corner of Fix Road and Baseline Road at the Shipman Farmhouse on Friday & Saturday, June 3 & 4, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. each day. It will be held rain or shine.




Grand Island Historical Society Open House - April 2022

   The Grand Island Historical Society is having an Open House on Sunday, April 24th from 2-4pm at River Lea located in Beaver Island State Park. FREE!




Grand Island Historical Society News - April 2022

Emmanuel Church Clock - Ferry Village - Located at Ferry Road and East River Road. Gifted by Kathy Stisser.
Mary Stewart Photo

   At the GI Historical Society March Open House. some of the most recently acquired acquisitions were on display. The next meeting is Thursday, April 7th at 7:00 p.m. Our guest speaker will be Kelly Sieman from Niagara Parks and Recreation with a power point presentation entitled “Daredevils of Niagara”. Barrels, jet skis and tightropes, oh my! Delve into the past and hear about the tremendous and brave adventures taken over the mighty Niagara Falls. The next open house is Sunday, April 24th from 2-4pm.




GI Historical Society - "Daredevils of Niagara" - February 2022

    GI Historical Society March program: "Daredevils of Niagara" on Thursday, March 3, 2022 at 7:00 pm at the Nike Base, 3278 Whitehaven Road in the GOLDEN AGE CENTER, the last building on the left. Members attend for free, all others $5 donation.
    Other items of interest to Historical Society Members:
    Elizabeth Licata's visit at the GI Memorial Library, 1715 Bedell Road on Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 pm. She is the editor-in-chief of Buffalo Spree magazine and author of "Secret Buffalo: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure." The event is free & open to the public; copies of the book will be available for sale.
    Author Rick Falkowski's first visit to the GI Memorial Library happened in the middle of the snowstorm on Feb. 3. Six hearty souls attended! Rick agreed to make a second appearance which is scheduled for Thursday, March 24 at 6:30 pm in the meeting room. Rick's latest book is "Profiles Volume II: Historic & Influential People from Buffalo & WNY the Early 1900s" will be available for sale. The event is free and open to the public.




Grand Island Historical Society Holiday Open Houses - December 2021

   

From left: Historical Society members Jane Wynne and Arlene Ehde.

Mary Stewart Photos

    The Grand Island Historical Society held its Christmas Open House over three days at Riverlea in Beaver Island Park this past weekend. Those who came could enjoy the holiday decorations at this Victorian home and purchase home made cookie platters, canned goods and gift items at the "Country Store". These are gently used items donated by historical society members. All funds are used for River Lea projects.




River Lea Open House - November 2021

   The Grand Island Historical Society's museum River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park, will be hosting an open house on Sunday, November 14th, from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. A Thanksgiving craft will be available for kids and adults. The downstairs rooms have been painted and new displays have been created in the living and dining rooms.




Grand Island Historical Society Holiday Open Houses - December 2021


   The Grand Island Historical Society's Holiday Open Houses are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 3,4, & 5 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Shop in the Christmas Store, view the new displays and enjoy holiday refreshments and music. Everyone welcome to attend. FLYER.




Grand Island Historical Society November Meeting - November 2021

   The Grand Island Historical Society's November general meeting and program will be held at the Golden Age Center, 3278 Whitehaven Rd. on Thursday, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. Our speaker will be Mark Saglian presenting a program on “The Richardson Complex”, (the former state hospital on Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo) Please wear a mask to this event. Programs are open to the public, members free, non-members $5 donation. You may renew or purchase your membership at the meeting. Refreshments will be served.




River Lea Open House - October 2021


   

Mary Stewart photos.

   The Grand Island Historical Society's museum River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park, will be hosting an open house on Sunday, October 17th, from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. An autumn craft making an old-fashioned corn husk doll will be available for kids and adults. The downstairs rooms have been painted and new displays have been created in the living and dining rooms.




Grand Island Historical Society October Meeting - October 2021

   The Grand Island Historical Society's October general meeting and program will be held at River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park on Thursday, October 7th at 7:00 p.m. Our own Mary Cooke will present a program entitled “Grand Island as Buffalo’s Play Spot”. Learn about the amusements that Grand Island had to offer in the past. Programs are open to members only. You may renew or purchase your membership at the meeting. Refreshments will be served.




Doors Open Buffalo Tour - September 2021

From left: June Crawford, Jodi Robinson, Joe Macaluso and Sharon Nichols at Niagara Square & City Hall.

Gold Dome Building.

Living Wall at Delaware North.

Old Erie County Halll.

Ellicott Square Building.

Seneca One, view from 37th floor.

    Members of the GI Historical Society and Historic Preservation Advisory Board participated in the "Doors Open Buffalo" tour on Saturday, September 25th. There were 35 properties, both historic and modern, that opened their doors to the public. The group looked at M & T Bank Gold Dome building built in 1901; Delaware North building, featuring the largest living wall in WNY; the Erie County Old County Hall (1876); St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral (1851 & 1890) the Ellicott Square Building (1896) and Seneca One Tower.




River Lea Open House - September 2021

   The Grand Island Historical Society's museum River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park, will be hosting an open house on Sunday, September 19th, from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. The downstairs rooms have been painted and new displays have been created in the living and dining rooms.




River Lea Open House Celebrates Bicentennial - September 2021

The next Passport Open House will be on Wednesday, September 1st at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park from 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. See Details. There is also a open house on Sunday, September 19th from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
   The Grand Island Historical Society is participating in the Erie County Bicentennial. The Erie County Heritage Passport is a handheld guide to 35 historical societies and museums across Erie County. Each institution is unique and commemorates the diverse nature and history of each town in the county, from the Town of Alden to the Town of West Seneca. The Passports are available at all Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries and at the museums.




River Lea Featured in WGRZ Story - August 2021

From Left: Pete Gallivan and Curt Nestark. Lewis F. Allen is in the portrait in upper left of photo.

   Recently WGRZ newscaster and reporter Pete Gallivan interviewed Grand Island Historical Society President Curt Nestark. It was for information on Lewis F. Allen, for whom Allen Street and Allentown is named. A visit was made to River Lea in Beaver Island State Park, the museum of the Grand Island Historical Society, and President Nestark gave the reporter a tour. Lewis F. Allen built the villa for his son and farmed 800 acres in the area of Beaver Island State Park and Ferry Village in the mid to late 1800's. You can see the clip HERE.




River Lea Open House Celebrates Bicentennial - July 2021

    The Grand Island Historical Society is participating in the Erie County Bicentennial. The Erie County Heritage Passport is a handheld guide to 35 historical societies and museums across Erie County. Each institution is unique and commemorates the diverse nature and history of each town in the county, from the Town of Alden to the Town of West Seneca. The Passports are available at all Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries and at the museums. The next Passport Open House will be on Wednesday, August 4th at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park from 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. See Details.




Successful Yard Sale - May 2021


Standing from left: Denise Dewey & Mary Cooke.
Sitting from left: Arlene Ehde, Sharon Nichols & Carolyn Doebert


From left: Rick McAvoy & Kathy McNally
Mary Stewart Photos.

   The Grand Island Historical Society had a fundraiser yard sale on May 21 & 22 at their museum River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park. The nice weather made for a very successful sale!




River Lea Fundraiser Yard Sale - May 2021

   The Grand Island Historical Society Yard Sale Fundraiser is outdoors, under tents at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park on Friday & Saturday, May 21 & 22, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. each day. It will be held rain or shine and proper distancing and masks are required. Enter the park and follow the signs to the historic farm house. There is no admission to the park at this time. Flyer.




River Lea Open House - April 2021

   The Grand Island Historical Society's museum River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park, will be hosting an open house on Sunday, April 18th, from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. The downstairs rooms have been painted and new displays have been created in the living and dining rooms. River Lea has not been open to the public since December 2019 due to Covid-19.




Bedell House Lithograph on Display - April 2021

GI Memorial Library Display

    The Bedell House Hotel lithograph was recently put on display at the Grand Island Memorial Library. This lithograph is four feet tall by five feet wide, made of one inch thick glass with an oak wood frame. The lithograph represents the 1877 Bedell House Hotel, which was located at the end of Ferry Road in Grand Island, NY. The hotel stood for 10 years until 1887 when it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt, only to succumb to fire again in 1935.
    The lithograph was constructed in the 1960's and placed behind the bar ar Bedell's Candlelite Restaurant and Lounge, located on Niagara Street in the City of Tonawanda. When the restaurant closed, the lithograph was placed in storage. In 2009, the Bedell Family generously donated the lithograph and other items to the Grand Island Historical Society.
   The Grand Island Historical Society Museum, River Lea in Beaver Island State Park, recently had professional painters refresh the living, dining, stairway and upper hall. The dining room has a new display of Bedell House memorabilia, which can be seen at the next Open House on Sunday, April 18th from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.     More information about the history of Grand Island can be found at www.isledegrande.com. Historical Society Webpage and History of Grand Island and Bedell House History.




River Lea Facelift! - February 2021

From left: Alex Vega, Collin Shamrock and Dennis Evans of Shamrock's Painting & Remodeling.

   The Grand Island Historical Society recently had the inside of their museum, River Lea, in Beaver Island State Park spruced up. The work was done by an Island company, Shamrock's Painting & Remodeling, and the society officers are very pleased and want to let members know it. Downstairs the dining room and living room were painted, the stairwell and upper hallway also got a fresh coat. Due to COVID - 19, the museum is closed at this time. You might get a chance to view in the spring, when another garage sale is planned. Shamrock's phone number is 716-243-5368.