HISTORY OF THE PARMA HILTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
This initial offering of the early formative years of your society is done in what I call a chronological tid-bit format. That is to say I’m going through past records, some good, some not so good, starting at the first utterance of PHHS and highlighting activities that have now been in a continuous state of growth for nearly fifty years. Ed Gable, Curator Emeritus, PHHS
And in the Beginning….
March 12, 1969: At the home of Mrs. Dennison Wright, with twenty-five citizens in attendance, a meeting was held with the purpose of organizing a historical society. A motion was made and approved to name the group the Parma Hilton Historical Society with yearly dues of two dollars. It was further suggested the group incorporate themselves and to that end elected Leigh Wright President pro tempore along with Shirley Husted as Secretary. Mrs. Helen Fox was appointed Chair of the By-Laws and Incorporation committee – and thus the Parma Hilton Historical Society was on its way.
April 10, 1969: The second meeting of the society was held in the Free Methodist Church located in Parma Center. Helen Fox read the draft of the By-Laws and amendment requests were made and sent back to committee for review. The “Purpose” document was read and approved for use. Mr. Paul Wadsworth was elected Treasurer pro tempore. Charter Membership was defined as those active no later than the November 1969 meeting.
July 6, 1969: The meeting opened with a reported $84.00 in the treasury. The By-law committee reported on their revisions and, being found acceptable, the Parma Hilton Historical Society By-Laws were approved for use. A nominating committee was appointed with Mrs. Walter Quinn as Chair. With the Society’s purpose in mind, Shirley Husted moved that the Parma Hilton Historical Society arrange for a historical display in the Parma Library window.
August 26, 1969: After a report of the Nominating committee, their slate was accepted and the first Officers and Directors of the Society were elected thusly: President Mrs. Dennison Wright, Vice-President Mrs. Edward Gable, Secretary Mrs. C. J. Koenig and Treasurer Mr. Paul Wadsworth. As Directors: I.M. Jones, Mrs. Richard Husted, Mrs. William Watters, Mrs. John Barclay and Mr. David Hooper. Mrs. John Barclay made a plea for a list of historical artifacts that could be loaned to the Historical Displays committee to be used at various locations.
October 23, 1970: Parma Hilton Historical Society received it’s Absolute Charter to operate as a historical society from the State of New York Regents.
February 1976: Parma-Hilton Bicentennial begins with six months of celebration throughout the year. PHHS offers exhibits, lectures, a banquet, showing Native American artifacts and a Fire Department display.
April 1979: The Society held its 10th Anniversary Banquet at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
1980 though 1990’s – The Society faced difficulty finding a suitable home for meetings and to display the artifact collection that continued to grow. The group moved from individual homes, leased rooms in Hilton’s village office building, the West Avenue school and finally the Hilton Central School District bus garage. Clearly a definitive plan was needed.
1989: John Barclay was chairman of the society’s first Strawberry Festival that would become an annual event for the next 28 years.
February 1990: PHHS Leases the “Board Room” (a previous classroom at the West Avenue School) for $1.00 to display artifacts.
August 1991: First use of a computer as Paul Wadsworth uses his own PC to manage membership records.
January 1994: Monthly membership meetings at this time were held at the Parma Hilton Library on West Avenue. The Society begins negotiations with the Town of Parma regarding erecting on Town property a small Ranch House sized building for storage, meetings and offices. Town Supervisor Rick Lemcke and the town board were enthusiastic and very helpful planning partners.
September 1994: Plans are firming up to build the history building on the North end of town property just south of the playground. PHHS has secured $11,000 of the required $32,000 cost. Tom Burger is heading a fund raising committee. PHHS volunteer labor reduced that cost. A ground breaking ceremony was held April 1, 1995.
1994 to 1995: Paid membership in the society doubles from 80 to 162 members as a result of the enthusiasm for the new building.
May 1995: PHHS By-laws are amended and artifact administration policies generated and approved by New York State Regents, allowing PHHS to manage collections and eventually operate a Museum.
April 10, 1996: The society’s first Curator, Paul Wadsworth, is appointed.
1996: PHHS opens its first Eagle Scout project and seeks applicants.
December 14, 1996: On a cold but bright sunny day the Parma Hilton Historical Society and the Town of Parma have a Grand Opening of the new Building. PHHS, Town and Village officials opened the building with much fanfare, ribbon cutting, cake cutting and congratulatory speeches. Success was due to great cooperation between PHHS and the Town of Parma as well as untold number of volunteer labor hours by both groups and by citizens off the street saying “how can I help.” The project ended fully paid and with zero debt!
August 9, 2000: The Society was once again running out of room for their collection. The Town of Parma, needing space for their collection. The Town of Parma, needing space for their Historian’s Office, artifact storage and displays, began discussions on adding a 40 foot addition to the East of the existing PHHS building.
April 2002: After continuing talks both sides agreed to a building addition except now to extend by 80 feet and to include the Town of Parma Historian’s office. PHHS will use a $10,000 donation from the disbanding Brockport Odd Fellows organization to fund a portion of the cost.
June 2002: PHHS joins the Town of Parma website and goes on-line with their first dedicated web pages.
May 2004: Tom Burger is appointed Town of Parma Historian and a long and beneficial period of cooperation between the Town of Parma Historian, the Village of Hilton Historian and the PHHS begins that is still enjoyed today.
June 2004: Demolition of the east end of the current PHHS building begins to facilitate the new 80 foot addition.
March 2006: After the beginning of society secretarial services, first by Mary Koenig, then Jean Wadsworth for over ten years, followed briefly by John Barclay, a new era begins with the election of Nancy Kuhn to scribing duties that morphed into a lady of all trades for the next 13 years.
May 2006: The building addition is going well with Tom Burger’s Town of Parma Historian’s office the first to be occupied.
February 2008: A delay in finishing the new 80 foot building addition and converting it from storage to a museum display area gets the attention of Town officials. The PHHS Board alters its management structure to better meet the needs of providing a display area for local historical artifacts.
July 2008: The Town of Parma, in recognition of his 40 years of service to the PHHS, names the original building hall the “Paul D. Wadsworth Meeting Room” and erects a permanent plaque to that effect.
August 2008: The museum addition is now being populated with artifacts owned by both PHHS, the Town of Parma and some items on loan by members of the community.
September 2008: Curator Don Stilson announces the museum is now open to the public on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., with PHHS members acting as guides.
December 2008: Work begins on the new 2009 “Barns of Parma” calendar.
May 2009: The PHHS Museum was pleased to host the first bus load of Hilton 4th grade students to tour the museum, a tradition that continues today.
July 2009: The Town of Parma erects signage at Rte 259 announcing the museum location.
June 2010: Don and Jim Stilson appointed Curator and Assistant Curator for a second term. The museum continues constant growth with permanent and rotating displays and ever increasing Sunday visitation. Guide volunteers are a dedicated group but the quantity is never too much.
June 2010: Much work is done by both the Town of Parma and the PHHS to sort and document artifacts stored at the old Meeting House now owned by the Town.
July 2010: At this time regular membership meetings and monthly programs were conducted in the Wadsworth Meeting room at the museum. With a reputation for good programming and a growing membership, the space was becoming way too small for the 40 plus level of attendance.
November 2010: Membership peaked at 102 paid members.
March 2011: PHHS acquires a new computer and the Town of Parma buys professional museum management software; PastPerfect Version 5. A major inventory and documentation of the PHHS and Town of Parma artifact collection begins.
April 2011: Regular PHHS membership meetings and programs are moved to the 2nd Monday of each month with a venue change to the large meeting room in the Parma Town Hall building. That arrangement continues today.
March 2011: After many years of barely meeting needs of adequate use, the old Bus Barn storage building is emptied of stored collectables and items are moved to the Parma owned Meeting House on Parma Center Road.
September 2011: Jean Wadsworth, Charter Member, long time Secretary, and a multi-tasking event and display coordinator during Applefest and other times of need for traveling exhibits, passed away. A large portion of this Historical Society Time Line is only possible through her meticulous record keeping.
October 2011: Don Stilson retires as PHHS Curator and moves to the position of Town of Parma Historian. Jim Stilson, with years of service as Assistant Curator, immediately moves to the Curator position.
June 2012: PHHS launches a community-wide program to restore the Dunbar Cemetery that had fallen into decay through loss of maintenance. A $9,000 budget was realized through local businesses, individual and society donations as well as local trades donating time and skills.
April 2013: The Parma Hilton Historical Society reviews and composes new By-Laws which were approved to bring the Society up to current New York State-driven requirements and to align with current practices.
There’s more… come back again. /Ed Gable, Curator Emeritus
The Summit Federal Credit Union is proud to support the Parma Hilton Historical Society