Ogdensburg History Museum moving into Blevins Building

Jun. 18—OGDENSBURG — This summer, the Blevins Office Building at 206 Ford St. will have a new tenant that will showcase forgotten memories of Ogdensburg.

The Ogdensburg History Museum was recently given the keys to Room 104 at the building, allowing it to pursue its mission to "share Ogdensburg's stories, collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting history, and help people make personal connections to it."

The office space has two rooms, a storage room and a bathroom.

"We are very grateful to Lynn Blevins and the Blevins family for their very generous donation which will make it possible for us to finally open an Ogdensburg History Museum sometime this summer," said Julie Madlin, president of the Ogdensburg History Museum. "Over the past six months, our all-volunteer group has worked very hard to obtain (nonprofit) status with the Internal Revenue Service which will allow us to accept tax-deductible donations, setting up our bank account, developing a tentative financial plan and overall development plan."

For Lynn L. and David R. Blevins, owners of the office building, the move was a win-win.

"It's a way to give back to something that is meaningful to the area," Lynn Blevins said, adding that it also allows the office building to be at full occupancy and bring people to the downtown area once it is opened.

The museum has been discussed for decades.

"The Blevins family are allowing us to use space in their building for free and then over time they will charge us a substantially below market rent that includes free heat and utilities until we are able to stand on our own," Mrs. Madlin said. "I want to thank our siting committee chair Jennifer Stevenson who spearheaded our effort to find a location."

Museum Vice President James E. Reagen said that the goal is to open sometime this summer.

"People have talked about an Ogdensburg museum for many, many years," Mr. Reagen said. "But thanks to the Blevins family, we finally have a place where we can open and show the community what we can offer."

One of the goals of the museum, according to Mr. Reagen, is for people to learn something new about Ogdensburg.

"There's a host of things — good and bad — that have happened over the years and we can tell some interesting stories that have been forgotten," he said. "Ogdensburg has a fascinating history that too many of our own citizens know nothing about. Whether it's George Washington's secret plan to capture Fort Oswegatchie, how the Oswegatchie Indians were betrayed, the Confederate spy ring that plotted an attack on our community during the Civil War or the Great Train Robbery committed by some of our city's criminals, we have stories to tell."

Before the museum can move in, painting and exhibit preparation must be done.

Stevenson said that the museum committee will soon plan work parties to help clean and paint the rooms to prepare for the opening. She said that the committee is also seeking any glass cases people would like to donate so they can showcase artifacts.

For Ms. Stevenson, having a museum in Ogdensburg is a source of community pride.

"I think it brings pride back into to the community. You can look at its history and learn about what happened here in Ogdensburg," she said.

Fellow board member Laura J. Pearson, who is also the executive director of the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, said that it will help attract visitors to the area.

"It's going to be a boon for tourism in Ogdensburg," Mrs. Pearson said.

Mr. Reagen said that over the next month, the museum board will be looking for corporate sponsors to help cover the cost of developing exhibits on events during Prohibition, the gambling raids of the 1950s, Ogdensburg's prostitution and other stories.

"This museum will help provide another major attraction in the downtown area that will encourage families to also visit the Remington Museum, our historic district, the Abbe Picquet Trail and shop at our stores, eat at our restaurants and stay at our lodging places. This museum will help us grow our tourism industry, encourage job growth and instill pride in our community's rich heritage and history," Mr. Reagen said.

While many city residents will want to donate artifacts and family heirlooms to the museum, board members stress that they do not have the room to accept such items at this time, at least until they have additional storage space and facilities that will allow them to secure them and provide for adequate preservation.

"As we get started, we will announce on the Ogdensburg History Facebook Page that we are looking for items connected to particular events and individuals to help us tell the unique story of Ogdensburg," Mrs. Madlin said. "Over time, we hope to add more and offer temporary displays to keep our museum interesting."