JAHA kicks off 2020 Annual Fund drive
The Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) has begun its 2020 Annual Fund to support its operations and programs in the coming year. Individuals and corporations are asked to support the Annual Fund to sustain the work that JAHA does to preserve the area’s heritage, and to use the community’s resources to support community revitalization.
“Through the Annual Fund, residents and businesses can provide crucial support for JAHA’s efforts to enhance the City and create a strong, positive image of our area,” said Richard Burkert, JAHA president.
JAHA has an extensive record of completed projects related to historic preservation, heritage tourism, and community development dating back to the organization’s founding in 1971. Support of the Annual Fund has helped make possible recent and current JAHA projects, including the following:
- Upcoming Johnstown Flood Museum renovations. JAHA has completed the planning for major exhibition and building upgrades at the Johnstown Flood Museum, and in 2019 received a RACP grant of $500,000 that will fund construction on refurbishment of the building. Also, the museum’s Oklahoma House, which was used to house flood survivors, was completely refurbished in 2019, thanks to help from the Keystone, Mountain, and Lakes Council of Carpenters Local 423.
- A full season of events at Peoples Natural Gas Park. The park, built by JAHA in 2012, has become a vital part of downtown revitalization by facilitating more special events for residents and visitors to enjoy. In 2019 alone, JAHA presented three free concerts, the Johnstown Funk Fest, an 1889 flood commemoration event, and the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival. In addition, JAHA co-produced the Path of the Flood Historic Races (with the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority) and Brews & Blues in the Valley (with Forever Media). Other organizations presented a wide variety of public events at the park, including Ice FunFest, Thunder in the Valley, two food truck festivals, a Donnie Iris concert, Juneteenth, and Coptoberfest.
- Blacksmith Shop reuse. For decades, JAHA has taken a lead role in preserving the Blacksmith Shop, an irreplaceable part of this region’s industrial heritage. JAHA worked to prevent its demolition in 1994, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to preserve the crumbling structure in the early 2000s. The refurbished building sat vacant for years until Center for Metal Arts (CMA), an established metalworking group, saw a photo of the shop posted on JAHA’s social media in 2017. CMA moved its operations to Johnstown in 2018 and is poised to become an international leader for this type of work, contributing to Johnstown’s revitalization by bringing this structure back to life again.
- Special exhibitions. In 2019, the Heritage Discovery Center hosted a temporary exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that was viewed by thousands of visitors, including school groups. The exhibition, “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,” was made possible by a grant from the Blanche Beerman Fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. In addition, “Johnstown’s Game: 75 Years of Baseball in the Flood City” was presented at the Johnstown Flood Museum, showcasing the rich history of the AAABA.
- Many additional projects. Other important JAHA initiatives in 2019 included the repair of the Stone Bridge lights; the refurbishment of the rooftop garden at the Johnstown Children’s Museum; a new career corner exhibition at the Johnstown Children’s Museum that’s currently under construction; and a full slate of large and small special events, including the Johnstown Slavic Festival, Last Fridays, rail tours, and 1889 flood walking tours. Programming specifically for children included numerous cooking and science workshops, as well as special events for Halloween and Christmas.
The fundraising goal of the Annual Fund drive is $120,000, of which $40,000 has already been raised. Letters about the Annual Fund have gone out to the business community, and will soon be sent to individual JAHA members and supporters. The letters include a mail-in form, and supporters can also donate online at jaha.org by clicking on the “donate” button.