Doors Open is Saturday, March 5

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Contributing Writer
Joni Blackman

The greater Jamestown area museums and attractions are once again opening their doors to the public for free to promote learning about our hometown treasures. Fifteen attractions are offering free tours, prize raffles, and sales to show off the interesting, fun, and surprising activities you can do in south Chautauqua County.

The interior of the historic 1923 Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.

Doors Open Jamestown Promotes All

From Frewsburg to Busti to all over Jamestown, everyone is invited to enjoy what we only visit with our out-of-town friends and family. In 2019 over 2,000 visitors and residents took advantage of the free admission day. “We want to see people out in the community taking advantage of the family-friendly attractions, eating in the restaurants and shopping in the local stores,” said Carrie Swanson, Jamestown Community Chamber Coordinator, “there are four gift baskets visitors can win through the online scavenger hunt. This year, the Doors Open scavenger hunt will be done via text message. When you visit a participating attraction, look for the text keyword for that attraction and use your mobile device to easily submit an entry. Some local Chamber member businesses will also offer keywords, offering even more chances to win when you make a stop for lunch or shopping part of your Doors Open agenda for the day. The more keywords you submit the more chances you’ll get to enter.” The prize baskets will be overflowing with local giveaways and coupons, including ShopLocalCHQ gift cards and merchandise from the local attractions.

Visitors learning about Jamestown’s history at the Fenton History Center.

The Attractions

Doors Open 2022 is on Saturday, March 5, from 10 AM to 4 PM at the following attractions: Audubon Community Nature Center, Busti Grist Mill, Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Fenton History Center, James Prendergast Public Library, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum*, Lucille M. Wright Air Museum, Martz-Kohl Observatory, Marvin Community House*, National Comedy Center*, Northwest Arena, Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, Robert H. Jackson Center, and Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Asterisks denote those that will require advance registration.

Jeff Tome, Audubon’s Public Engagement Specialist and well-known educator said, “Audubon is one of the most family friendly places to visit in the area. The three-story Nature Center contains something to do on every floor. There are live animals on the first floor, including the largest salamander in North America, the Eastern Hellbender, as well as turtles, snakes and frogs. There is a play fishing pond and a log to crawl through as well. The second floor contains a puppet theater and other play areas. The third floor is a large indoor play area where kids can engage their imaginations by pretending to cook over a pretend fire, hop along logs and so much more. Audubon will also have a selection of animal fur and bones to feel as part of Doors Open Jamestown. It’s not often you can feel a fox or pet an otter, so there will be a nature educator on hand to give people the experience of feeling what these animals are like. Outdoors, there are six miles of trails that include a Nature Play Area and live Bald Eagle that lives in an aviary outside the building.” The Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, N.Y.

The Busti Historical Society, 3443 Lawson Rd., Jamestown, N.Y., will be running the grist mill, selling grain and other items, and offering tours of the miller’s house and museum. The campus is based on the 1800s structures and people that were in Busti during the pioneering times of this part of western New York. The restored mill is one of only a few working mills in the tri-state area.

The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame has been honoring, remembering and celebrating local athletes since 1981. Discover the sports history of Chautauqua County, New York through the stories of the men and women who lived it. The museum is full of artifacts, pictures and stories from every corner of the sporting world. The hall is located at 15 W Third Street.

The Fenton History Center will offering free admission to the four-story historic home of former N.Y. State Governor Reuben E. Fenton (1865-1869). The museum is filled with exhibits about Jamestown’s history, the life during the time of Governor Fenton and a unique gift shop featuring a large assortment of local history books and collectibles. Renee Freifeld, the newly appointed Executive Director said, “At the Fenton, we are most enthusiastic about our participation with the Doors Open Program here in Jamestown. It is our hope that those who plan to visit the Museum will leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of our dedicated efforts here at the Fenton to preserve our local history for generations to come.”

Visitors love to watch the live animals at the Audubon.

The James Prendergast Library will be featuring a special time for sensory play in the Makerspace from 11 AM to 12:15 PM. The half-off book sale will also be taking place all day. “We are open to all for free every day and we hope those that have not made use of our many services will stop in and take a look, even buy a book or two from the ongoing book sale,” said Jennifer Champ, Community Outreach and Programming Manager.

The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and the National Comedy Center are offering pre-registered tours for the day. Registration prior to March 5 is required online at www.ComedyCenter.org/DoorsOpen. They are also offering 20% off in the Lucy Desi Museum gift shop and The Comedy Shop at the National Comedy Center.

The Lucile M. Wright Air Museum is newly located in the Hotel Jamestown on E. Third St. in suite 101. Long-time supporter and board member Ellen Materknowski said, “We opened in late January, and we have six rooms of exhibits that include many hands-on activities, a helicopter, flight simulator and much more.” Drawings will be held for a complimentary ride in an airplane with pilot Mike Johnson, and one hour in the flight simulator.

The Marvin Community House, located on E. Fifth St., will be open for pre-registered tours, both guided and self-guided. They will be holding a bake sale, and selling their well-known pickles, cookbook and Marvin House history book. “Although we have been here since 1951, there are many who don’t know we are open for rentals year-round. It’s a lovely setting for showers, parties, meetings and other gatherings,” said house manager Marlene Lucas. The Marvin Community House will take pre-registration by phone at (716) 488-6206 or by email to [email protected]

The Northwest Arena is offering a free public skate from 10 AM to noon. “We hope lots of families come in to enjoy the open skating time,” said Megan Arnone, Director of Marketing, Communications, and Sales. Skate rentals, if needed, are $3 per person. All children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will be offering tours of the 1923 restored theater and newly updated facilities from 10 AM to 3 PM. From the 1878 Buffalo Bill poster to the state-of-the-art WRFA recording studios and meeting spaces, the Reg is a gem of an anchor in our downtown Jamestown.

The Robert H. Jackson Center will show their documentary on Mr. Jackson, Liberty Under Law, at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, in the Cappa Theatre. The staff and docents will be on duty to answer questions.

“The Roger Tory Peterson Institute is thrilled to be a part of Doors Open this year. We are very excited to welcome the community into our home, and look forward to establishing relationships with those that may be new to us,” said David Niles, Programs and Event Manager, “RTPI’s collections curator, Maria Ferguson, will be offering gallery walks at 11 AM, 1 and 3 PM for those that would like a free guided tour through our current exhibition, Thomas D. Mangelsen: A LIFE IN THE WILD. In addition, RTPI will be raffling off prizes to the public. There is no cost to enter the raffle, and the winners will be contacted after the event. The nature trails will be open until dusk, and the Girl Scouts will have a cookie booth set up in the newly opened Art and Nature Lab.”

The Martz-Kohl Observatory, located at 176 Robin Hill Rd. in Frewsburg, welcomes visitors to tour the newly expanded facilities, learn about the telescopes and chat with the amateur astronomers “on duty”. The observatory is another gem in western New York.

Crawling through the big log at the Audubon.

Where will you go first?

From science to history to comedy to the arts – the Jamestown area has it all! It is impossible to cover all the offerings happening in one day. Pick the ones you don’t want to miss, plan out your brunch, lunch or dinner and take a tour of your hometown.