The Historical Society 500 has turned into the Historical Society 539 and counting.
After exceeding its original goal of getting 500 people to donate $50, for a total $25,000, the Jefferson County Historical Society has officially ended its fundraiser. The agencys supporters, however, are still sending in checks for the campaign, which was made possible through help of the Watertown Daily Times.
As of Tuesday, a total of $30,398 had been collected and a few local businesses had donated materials and labor. The funds, which were collected since April 24, will support structural repair and operational costs. Projects include resurfacing the library and third-floor balcony of the Paddock mansion and replacing the front porch deck of the Massey House.
From our standpoint, its a great feeling to have reinforcement from community members that what were doing is important, said William G. Wood, executive director. Theyre relaying to us in many cases why theyre supporting us and most is that were so unique in what our mission is. Without someone or an organization looking out for trying to preserve history, you wouldnt think that could happen by itself.
Campaign supporters sent checks to the Historical Society or the Watertown Daily Times. Participants names were, or will be, published in the Times, and donors have been invited to a reception Aug. 11 at the Paddock mansion, 228 Washington St.
John B. Johnson, general manager of Northern New York Newspapers Corp., said hes been energized at the success of the partnership with the Historical Society and by how responsive Times readers and the public were to the campaign.
It is amazing how swiftly and generously the public responded to our call to action on behalf of the Historical Society, he said. Weve had great response in the past to our fundraisers for the zoos aviary and the most recent one, the Otter 400. However, none of those campaigns reached their participation goal and financial goal as quickly as the Jefferson County Historical Society 500.
The campaigns success, he said, tells him there was a strong, tangible need at the agency and that the newspaper and its website reach is substantial and appeals to a group of people who value local institutions.
Mr. Wood said the Historical Society has yet to begin structural repair projects because the agency held its annual Heritage Days event earlier this month. The first project to be completed, he said, will be the back steps, which are rotted.
Marking one item off the agencys checklist at a time, Mr. Wood said, the Historical Society will now look toward a sustainability plan. The success of the agency, and being able to keep its doors open, will depend on funds raised each year, he said.