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Jefferson County Historical society to host free September lecture series

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WATERTOWN — Free education and admission are what the Jefferson County Historical Society will offer the public each Wednesday in September.

The nonprofit museum, at 228 Washington St., will host historical lectures at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, in hopes of attracting Farmers Market attendees and other community members. Giving north country residents exposure to the Paddock Mansion and historical society programming may entice them to return, Executive Director Jessica M. Phinney said.

“One of the main factors is we really wanted to do something mission-driven,” she said. “And the Farmers Market is right outside our door every Wednesday. We have a lot of people parking in our back parking lot, and walk right by the historical society. When people come through the doors, they’ll understand us.”

Free admission, tours and the weekly lecture series may get more people to explore exhibits and things in the agency’s collection of more than 100,000 historical items, she said. The series is scheduled as follows:

Sept. 3 — Laurie W. Rush will present on indigenous peoples of Fort Drum.

Sept. 10 — Michael Keene will present on state mental institutions.

Sept. 17 — Bilkey L. Moore will present on north country postcards.

Sept. 24 — David M. Champagne will present on the society’s pink schoolhouse restoration project.

“He went there as a child, and was one of the driving forces about the restoration and relocation of it here,” Ms. Phinney said.

Historical Society staff and board members had approached people they knew would be invested in educating the public about local historical topics, she said. A lecture series has not been done in a while, Ms. Phinney said, so the revival could attract more visitors and subsequently more members.

September also is Membership Month at the society, and by offering free opportunities, it hopes people will see benefits to becoming a member, Ms. Phinney said.

Free museum admission and reduced fees for special offerings are just some of the membership benefits. A range of membership options for people and businesses ranges from $25 to $5,000.

Feedback from members is also important, Ms. Phinney said. Recently, some members expressed interest in the society reviving its tours to historical sites or entertainment spots, so that is something the nonprofit seeks to “pick up again soon.”

Meanwhile, the society is gearing up for its History Links Us Golf outing Sept. 27 at the Watertown Golf Club, Thompson Park.

To coincide with that, Ms. Phinney said, there are plans to have a golf/sporting goods exhibit in September.

For more information, call 782-3491, or visit

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