The Old Fort Niagara Association

The Old Fort Niagara Association operates Old Fort Niagara under license from the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Association is responsible for opening the Fort to the public on a regular schedule, providing visitor services, maintenance and security, upholding State standards for historic preservation, providing interpretive programming and managing and caring for a large collection of artifacts and documentary materials. The Association also manages an ambitious publications program and conducts archaeological research in cooperation with Buffalo State College. 

Since its founding in 1927, the Old Fort Niagara Association has operated Old Fort Niagara in a self-sufficient manner. The organization does not receive substantial operating support from government. Income is derived from admission fees, shop sales and community support. Annually the Fort welcomes almost 100,000 visitors from throughout the world. The organization is made up of some 900 members.

The Association is classified as a not-for-profit organization under section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Service.


The Association was founded in 1927 in response to fears among local citizens that the historic structures of the Old Fort would be allowed to fall into ruin. The members and leadership were able to convince the United States Army (which then owned the Old Fort) that Federal funds should be used ot restore the historic buildings and walls. The Association also raised money from among the citizens of the Niagara Frontier and used it to match Federal appropriations. Between 1927 and 1934, the Army and the Association obtained the money necessary to restore Old Fort Niagara to the condition in which it appears today.

As restoration neared its end, the Army began looking for the best way to operate the restored fort as a museum. An agreement was reached with the Association, and, in 1931, the first official license to operate the Old Fort was issued to the Association. When the Army transferred the Fort Niagara Reserve to the State of New York in 1948, the Association continued to operate and maintain the site.

Mission of the Old Fort Niagara Association

The Old Fort Niagara Association functions under a formal "Statement of Purpose" which provides the rationale for all decisions relating to the historic site and its museum. The stated purposes of the Association are:

Preservation Function: To preserve, restore and maintain the historic site and structures of Old Fort Niagara. The site comprises roughly 23 acres of land and Lake Ontario bottom land at the mouth of the Niagara River. Included in this area are fortifications, outworks, six 18th century buildings, significant archaeological remains, and the early post cemetery.

Education Function: To foster, encourage and promote a deeper understanding of Old Fort Niagara and its significance to the history of the Niagara Frontier, the State of New York, the United States, and Canada. This shall be accomplished by means of research, archaeology , exhibits, programs, publications, and any other appropriate educational techniques.

Collection Function: To establish and maintain collections of objects, books, documents and illustrations relating to the history of the site of Old Fort Niagara and associated historic sites along the Niagara Frontier.

Old Fort Niagara Association Board of Directors


Bruce Newton, President

Toby Jewett, Vice President

Elizabeth Diachun, Secretary

James Frank, Treasurer


Michael Blenk

Deborah Breed 

David Caldwell

Paul Casseri

Harry DeBan

Aaron Dey

Thomas Faith

Stephen Jackson

Everell Jewett

Richard Lewis

Craig Maefs

Arthur Mazenauer

Ginger McNally

Thomas O'Donnell

Thomas Palmer

Neil Patterson

Paul Reid

Jodee Riordan

Richard Roach

David Rogers

James Sexton III  

Arthur Werner     

Bios for Board Candidates for 2018          

Elizabeth "Betsy" Diachun worked at OFN for 13 years before retiring in 1991 as Assistant Director.  She has served on the Board since 2003 and has lived in western New York since 1961.

     Because she was responsible for the tourism aspect of the Fort, Betsy remains involved in many programs and agencies which promote Niagara County as a tourism destination.  Currently she is on the Niagara Area Foundation Board, the Niagara Beautification Commission and the.  She volunteers weekly at the Niagara County Historical Society.  In all her work with community organizations she hopes to improve the quality of life within the County.

     Betsy is married to Peter Diachun and resides in the Village of Lewiston.


Paul J. Casseri – Mr. Casseri has been an educator for 31 years.  He began his career as a social studies teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools in 1987.  In 1998, he moved into the area of educational administration and since that time has served as a building and central office administrator. In October 2005, he began his work with the Lewiston-Porter Central Schools, Youngstown, NY as High School Principal. He has served as Superintendent of Schools for Lewiston-Porter Central since July 1, 2015.

Education for global understanding and international studies has been a focus of his work throughout his career.  As a teacher he co-directed a Costa Rica exchange program at South Park High School. At Lewiston-Porter High School he has initiated an extensive international studies program.  Since 2005 exchange partnerships have been established with schools in China, Japan, Argentina, France, Germany and Turkey. Most recently Lewiston-Porter Central Schools has begun to enter tuition paying F-1 Visa students from across the globe. In the area of CTE, Mr. Casseri spearheaded the development of a National Academy Foundation (NAF) program at Lewiston-Porter, L-P Academy of International Business and Finance. The Academy is a three year school within a school program that focusses on International Business, with an extensive internship experience for cohort members in the field of International Business. 

In 2008, Mr. Casseri, was a presenter at the International Forum: Innovation of Secondary Education and the Development of Schools in Tianjin, China. In 2009 he was honored as Administrator of the Year by the Niagara University School of Education. In 2013 he was an invited speaker at the International Society for Educational Planning on the topic of International Education in K-12 programs. He has also been honored by the American Association of Teachers of French Western New York Chapter for his promotion of French Language and Culture. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in History from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master of Education in Social Studies from the State University of New York College at Buffalo and has finished coursework toward his EdD. in Educational Administration at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.


Stephen Jackson became a Life Member of the Old Fort Niagara Association in 1995, and began serving on its Board of Directors in Fall 2000.  He is an active member of the Finance and Strategic Planning Committees.  Steve has served as the Association's Vice President from 2001 to 2008. He and his wife Karen (a member of the King's Regiment Field Musick) currently reside in Chatham, New Jersey: and, are volunteer reenactors at the Fort.

   Steve, a native western New Yorker, earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Canisius College; and, currently serves on its Board of Trustees.  Steve joined Ernst & Young LLP in 1982; was promoted to Partner in 1995; and has worked exclusively over his career with foreign businesses that are investing in the USA from Ernst & Young's Buffalo, Toronto and New York offices.


Everell W. (Toby) Jewett from Grand Island High School in 2001 having spent 32 years teaching regents and advanced placement biology.  He also taught biology and general science at Wilson Central High School for 2 years prior to Grand Island.  Toby was a Student Teacher Supervisor at Buffalo State College from 2002 - 2013.

                Toby has been a member of the Old Fort Niagara Association since 1983, a life member since 2007 and has served on the OFN Association’s Board of Directors since 2010.  He’s been volunteering since 2002 to include: coordinator of Sutlers for French and Indian War, tour guide, tour guide training, winter camp, haunted fortress, castle by candlelight, holiday open house, French heritage day, Lockport day, advocate’s dinner, Pouchot’s landing weekend, War of 1812 re-enactment and OFN at the Knox.  Toby helped with the Maritime Exhibits in the HI.  Toby taught sailing and ran the Junior Sailing Program at Youngstown Yacht Club for 20 years.  He was also an Instructor Trainer for the US Sailing Association.  Toby has been active in the Town of Porter Historical Society, on the Board of Directors from 2006 -2013 and served as President of the Board from 2010 - 2013.  

                Toby and his wife Ginny reside in Youngstown.


Ginger McNally has been an active member of the Board of Directors since 1985, and is presently Chairperson of the Membership Committee.  She is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Talarico Real Estate in Lewiston and also editor for Academica Press, a small scholarly publishing house.  Ginger is active in Habitat for Humanity and delivers Meals-on-Wheels, works in various capacities for the Youngstown Presbyterian Church, the Presbytery of Western New York and Lewiston Garden Club.


Aaron Dey is an award-winning conventional and digital marketing expert with years of experience marketing both start-ups, not-for-profits and established businesses. He co-owns his own business services and consulting firm called US Organic Leads Corporation, as well as for Canadian clients. Currently Dey, who resides in Youngstown, NY, sits on the Board of Directors, and is the marketing committee chair for Old Fort Niagara Association. Dey works  hand-in-hand with the staff with promotion and marketing initiatives and loves to help put the Fort's best foot forward to reach current and new markets of potential guests. Besides the Fort Board, Dey also sits on the Board of the Lower Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, The Great Lakes Seaway Trail and has been involved with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area's initiative to connect communities, heritage and business from Niagara Falls to Youngstown, NY through the 'Discover Niagara Shuttle', since before its operational launch. Dey is an avid promoter of business development and tourism in the area. Besides family, friends and helping worthy not-for-profits, he finds pleasure as an avid sailor, walking he and his wife's two sister Standard Poodles around the Village, and as the Old Fort Niagara Association's token Canadian. - “Beauty Eh!”

Skip Mazenauer: Skip Mazenauer is the publisher and CEO of Niagara Frontier Publications (NFP)  which produces 4 weekly newspapers, special magazines and a well-established website:  He has served as an officer of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce in his 40-plus years of membership. Skip has also served as an officer  of the Grand Island Rotary club and was honored twice by his nomination as a Paul Harris Fellow. Additional, he helped establish the Grand Island Builders.  Skip has served in several capacities with the Niagara County Builders Association including president for 2 terms and lobbyists in Albany, representing the NCBA in Legal Defense and Legislative Issues committees on the State Political Action Committee. Additional community and professional organizations in which Skip has served are the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce, Both the Wheatfield and Town of Niagara Business and Professional Associations.  He also served on the Greater Lewiston Business and Professional Association Board of Directors for 5 years.  While a director of the GLBPA, Skip assisted in the transition to the Lower River Region Chamber of Commerce and served as a chairman for 2 terms. Skip is currently on the boards of Old Fort Niagara, Aquarium of Niagara, Art Park, the Lewiston Jazz Committee and New York Press Association. Skip is also serving as state representative for weekly newspapers of WNY and is actively enjoying the Niagara University Family Business Association.


Bruce Sutherland: graduated from Lew-Port in 1964. He was a Regents Scholar and attended Niagara County Community College, where he earned his Associates Degree in 1966. He then continued on to SUNY Geneseo where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1969. He then served in the Air Force with high distinction for 26 years until his retirement as a full Colonel in 1996. Col. Sutherland was a pilot of both propeller and jet transport planes and retired with more than 6,000 pilot hours, including flights to and from Vietnam. Just prior to his retirement, Col. Sutherland was Commander of the 463rd Tactical Air Wing at Dyess Air Force Base and Commander of the 7th Bomber Wing.

Following his retirement from the U.S. Air Force, Col. Sutherland continued flying as Captain of Boeing 737 jets for Southwest Airlines, adding more than 8,000 additional flying hours to his distinguished career. He retired from Southwest Airlines in 2006 and moved back to his hometown of Lewiston, where he quickly became involved in a variety of civic activities, including President of the Historical Association of Lewiston and founding member of the  Lew-Port Alumni Association. Since 2010, Bruce has been a Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor.



Please direct any inquiries regarding OFN operations or employment to: 

Old Fort Niagara    P.O. Box 169 Youngstown, NY 14174-0169 USA  
tel 716.745.7611 fax 716.745.9141 or email us

Hours of Operation

The Fort is open year round with the exception of New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

  • Jan - June 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • July - Aug - 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • Sept - Dec - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Please note: Ticket sales end 30 minutes before closing time.


Support the Fort

Old Fort Niagara is operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1927. We do not rely on tax dollars. Instead, the Fort is funded through a combination of admission fees, museum shop sales and charitable contributions.

Donate today!


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