JAHA launches 2022 Annual Fund and asks for community support
The Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) kicked off its 2022 Annual Fund drive in a press conference today at its signature facility, the Johnstown Flood Museum.
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.
“The Johnstown Heritage Discovery plan, which JAHA completed in 1991, outlines a linked series of attractions and historic districts that makes Johnstown a more attractive place to live, work, and visit,” said Richard Burkert, JAHA president. “Plans for the Heritage Discovery Center and Johnstown Children’s Museum and Peoples Natural Gas Park were described in that document. Now, the Johnstown Train Station, which JAHA owns and worked to save, is the next in line for redevelopment into a community asset.”
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Major projects in JAHA’s history include:
- 1989: JAHA reopens the Johnstown Flood Museum with a Charles Guggenheim-produced documentary that wins the Academy Award for Best Documentary – Short Subject.
- 1991: JAHA completes the Johnstown Heritage Development Plan, which focused the organization’s efforts on preserving and interpreting the Cambria City and Downtown Johnstown neighborhoods, calling for the development of a Heritage Discovery Center, a “festival park,” and local historic preservation district guidelines. JAHA researches and successfully nominates six historic districts in Johnstown to the National Register of Historic Places.
- 2001: JAHA opens the first phase of the Heritage Discovery Center, featuring a permanent interactive exhibition on immigration.
- 2006: JAHA obtains much of the grant funding to conserve the 1864 Blacksmith Shop, which is owned by the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority.
- 2006: JAHA restores and opens the Wagner-Ritter House & Garden.
- 2009: JAHA opens the Johnstown Children’s Museum and Iron & Steel Gallery in the Heritage Discovery Center.
- 2010: The Johnstown Train Station is donated to JAHA by Carole Furst Gigliotti and Harvey and Katherine Supowitz, and JAHA begins efforts to conserve the building.
- 2011: With the help of a community committee, JAHA premieres the Stone Bridge Lighting Project.
- 2012: JAHA completes and opens Peoples Natural Gas Park as a home for the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, other existing large events, and as a catalyst for new events.
- 2016: JAHA raises funds for repairs to stabilize the Johnstown Train Station, including a new roof.
- 2018: The Center for Metal Arts moves to Johnstown, drawn by the opportunity to reuse the Blacksmith Shop.
The Annual Fund is JAHA’s yearly fundraising drive that supports its operations and special projects.
“Last year when we announced the Annual Fund, we had just come through months of pandemic-related closures and struggle,” Burkert added. “The pandemic is not completely behind us, of course. But JAHA is looking back on a really successful year, and we have big plans for 2022. With the community’s support, we’re going to continue building momentum.”
Support of the Annual Fund has helped make possible these 2021 accomplishments:
- The implementation of an online ticketing platform, Bandwango, which enables us to offer guided tours of the Center for Metal Arts and Wagner-Ritter House & Garden, and encourages visitors to see more of what Johnstown has to offer.
- Three temporary exhibitions at the Heritage Discovery Center – Earthwalk Explorer (Jun.-Aug.), #150mmchallenge (Aug.-Oct.), and Machines of Interest: The Collected Works of Stephen Mallon (Oct.-Mar. 2022).
- The restoration of the Heritage Discovery Center’s elevator, restoring accessibility to all five floors.
- Coordination of a project to install a new sign at the corner of 6th and Broad marking the Cambria City National Historic District.
- A full season of programming at Peoples Natural Gas Park — the Path of the Flood Races, three free concerts, multiple community-produced events — capped off by the triumphant return of the AmeriServ Flood City Music Festival, held Oct. 1-2.
- A comprehensive Historic Buildings Survey of Johnstown to identify important buildings and districts, helping the City plan for their preservation and use.
The fundraising goal of the Annual Fund drive is $100,000, of which just over $12,000 has already been raised. Letters about the Annual Fund have gone out to the business community, and are going out JAHA supporters. The letters include a mail-in form, and supporters can also donate online at jaha.org by clicking on the “donate” button.