This year marks two very special anniversaries for the Fenton Mansion and Historical Society and wonderful Gala plans are underway. If you have been receiving our Walnut Press Newsletters for long, you’ll know that this year marks the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fenton Historical Society forming, taking up residence in the Mansion, and beginning to collect “Old Stuff” relating to the lives and times of those having lived in Chautauqua County.
The other very special anniversary relates to the opening of the Mansion to Veteran groups and Patriotic Societies. A news clipping, published in the Buffalo Evening News on Nov. 19, 1915, shows that much work went into saving the Fenton Mansion, which finally happened in 1919 when the City of Jamestown purchased the home and grounds to be used as a Soldier and Sailor Memorial Park. Then, of course, in order to ready the building for public use, a few things like indoor plumbing, electricity, and an alternative to fireplace heat needed to be added. (Thank you!)
The Fenton Mansion was finally ready for its debut and the Veterans who had waited longest were granted the honor of choosing the room they would like to meet in. On July 4 (Governor Fenton’s birthday), 1923, the James M. Brown Post GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) held their first meeting in the Fenton Drawing Room. “A unanimous vote of thanks was extended to the trustees of the Post for securing the new rooms and arranging for furniture and possessions of the Post to be moved here. Ira Lou Spring Post American Legion, Samuel M. Porter Camp United Spanish War Veterans, and James Hall Camp Sons of Union Veterans were also thanked for their helpful cooperation in the observance of Memorial Day”. These groups had picked other rooms and would also begin having meetings in this building.
Check out these photos of the GAR Exhibit now on display in the Drawing Room to honor those early Veterans whose voices and presence once graced this building.