Ohio History Official Presents $19K Grant to MVHS

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A $19,000 grant from the Ohio History Connection will help the Mahoning Valley Historical Society with efforts to move about 6,800 artifacts stored at the Arms Family Museum to the recently purchased former IBM Building.

Megan Wood, OHC executive director, presented an oversized check representing the grant to Bill Lawson, MVHS executive director, and Jessica Trickett, MVHS collections manager, Friday afternoon.

She advised that the check wasn’t legal tender and couldn’t be cashed. That prompted Lawson to retort, “We have a very big cancellation stamp.”   

MVHS was among 14 community history organizations that were awarded money from the grant fund, which is supported primarily by donations provided through a checkoff box on Ohio income tax returns.

“The more money we have, the more we can give out,” Wood said. “This program is so special because it gives money to projects that’s hard to find funding for.”

MVHS purchased the 250 E. Federal St. building in November for $1.9 million, announcing plans to use it for storage and additional exhibit space. 

From left are Megan Wood, Ohio History Connection executive director; Jessica Trickett, Mahoning Valley Historical Society collections manager; and Bill Lawson, MVHS executive director.

The OHC funding will help the historical society to consolidate its entire collection of three-dimensional objects in the new storage space, items now stored in the attic and closets of the Arms Family Museum. The artifacts “represent the lives of the people of the Mahoning Valley from the late 18th century to the present,” Trickett said.

“And they include lots of different things like household furnishings, textiles, quilts and coverlets, food processing equipment, all kinds of things that people use as domestic tools,” as well as business and industry tools, clothing and accessories, sports and recreation objects, framed artwork and decorative art objects, she added.

Other projects funded during this round of grants, for which 41 organizations applied, included access upgrades at a historic house to comply with Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, conservation work on Joe Namath’s knee brace at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “the first joined knee brace ever,” and work on the cupola of a historic barn, Wood reported.

“So it really runs the gambit, but it’s projects that are essential to preserving history but hard sometimes to get funding for,” she said. “That’s kind of the beauty of this program.”

The OHC grant will cover about half the cost of this phase of relocating the items from the Arms building, Lawson said. MVHS absorbed the cost of relocating objects from various leased spaces. 

As part of the visit, Wood and Andy Verhoff, Ohio history fund and outreach manager, toured the storage space with MVHS staff. Among the artifacts they viewed was an NCR cash register purchased by James Ross when he opened Ross Radio Co. in 1930, and a pinball machine manufactured by a Youngstown company, Automatic Industries, also in 1930.

“I was really impressed with the breadth of the collection, the size of it,” Wood said during an interview following the tour. Also, she was “professionally empathetic for the amount of work that they’re doing. It’s really important work to focus on housing collections correctly.”

Pictured at top: Bill Lawson, Mahoning Valley Historical Society executive director; Andy Verhoff, Ohio History Connection history fund and outreach manager; and Megan Wood, Ohio History Connection executive director, check out a pinball machine made by Youngstown company Automatic Industries in 1930.

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