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Holland Purchase Historical Society

Historical Society looks ahead with 20-year lease for HLOM

By Joanne Beck
HLOM front view
Holland Land Office Museum on West Main Street in Batavia is on the priority list for upgrades, and is closer to reality with a 20-year lease agreement between the county and Holland Purchase Historical Society. File Photo by Howard Owens.

A 20-year property lease will provide the assurance for Holland Purchase Historical Society to move forward with plans for Holland Land Office Museum’s eventual restoration and expansion on the west side, Executive Director Ryan Duffy says.

The nonprofit’s board has been pursuing a capital project and related survey; however, nailing down an agreement that the Society would retain rights to the property throughout the project was an integral part of the process before moving forward, Duffy said after approval by the Human Services Committee on Monday.

“So this is an important piece to allow us to pursue funding for the dream of the addition, as we have to be able to show extended occupancy,” he said. “So having this lease allows us to do that and allows us to go after bigger grants.

“We’re going to have to get major funding through grants in order to pursue this project," he said. "So that’s why this lease agreement was very important.”

He couldn’t — or wouldn’t — disclose any other details about the project and a related timeline for grant funding, restoration and potential construction of a welcome center.

Last year county legislators approved the bid of $43,324 from consultant Wendel of Williamsville to conduct a restoration study of each nook and cranny of Holland Land Office Museum to determine what its future needs might be. The consultants were going to assess “functionality issues” of the West Main Street, Batavia, site, according to county Highway Superintendent Tim Hens.

“It’s a full, comprehensive look at the building,” Hens had said at the time. “And it should give us a road map of what we need.”

The Batavian checked back in with Hens this April to find out how that study was progressing, and he said it was still ongoing. County Attorney James Wujcik has also been working with the Historical Society’s board to finalize a lease agreement.

As County Manager Matt Landers explained, the project will require a substantial amount of grant funding, and “they just want assurances that we don't give the building away or sell it on them.” 

"I am supportive of it. Jim was able to find the ability for us to do this over the course of 20 years. With an out clause that we still have built into it,” Landers said.

Board members and legislators said that, in addition to the other purposes it serves, they would also like to see the museum become a polling site in the future.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg was on board with future plans and happy to see the work that it’s taken to get here so far.

"I just want to say thank you to whoever was involved for having this come to fruition. The plans that they have are pretty impressive; I think many things we've seen for future generations, and it's a source of pride in our history,” Clattenburg said. “And also, it's a very significant educational tool for students that come through there. I know they want to expand on that, expanding progress and all that, so this is like the first step, and I wish them all the luck in the world getting what they need.”

The agreement states that the county agrees to lease to the Historical Society the premises commonly known as the Holland Land Office Museum located at 131 West Main Street, Batavia, NY.

The Historical Society will lease the entire two-story Holland Land Office Museum building and its east and west wings, totaling 6,132 square feet and shall have the right to use the west side parking lot in common with other visitors and uses, for a period of 20 years, from June July 1, 2023 to May 31, 2043.

This Agreement is contingent on the continuous and uninterrupted maintenance and operation of the Museum.

Holland Office Museum back view
Holland Land Office Museum from the west side next to the parking lot, where a prospective welcome center may be located. File Photo by Howard Owens.

Teacher and author brings personal touch to local history with new book

By Maria Pericozzi


There is so much history in Genesee County and for the past few years, Anne Marie Starowitz has been writing columns that told the stories of the people and places and events that helped shape Batavia and the surrounding area.

Now she's collected those columns -- revised and updated -- into a newly released book, “Back in the Day, Snapshots of Local History, the Way I See It!”

Starowitz will hold a book signing at 11 a.m. on Dec. 16 at Ken’s Charcoal Pits, located at 59 Main St. in Downtown Batavia.

Starowitz, a retired school teacher of 45 years in Le Roy and Batavia, started substitute teaching after she retired in 2007. She has lived in Batavia her entire life.

She is also on the board of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, which led to her newspaper and newsletter column, which she started a decade ago on artifacts or exhibits at the museum and local history.

“Over that time, people seemed to like the articles,” Starowitz said. “I think they liked the articles where I was in the articles, with my memories. They were more subjective than objective.”

Three years into writing the articles, Starowitz decided she wanted to eventually put the articles together in a book. She has been working on the articles over the last year with editors and putting pictures with the articles.

“But, in the last three years, I’ve really put my heart and soul into it,” Starowitz said. “They’ve been edited, I’ve picked the ones I’ve wanted, and then I self-published the book.”

For each copy of the 300-page book sold, $1 will be donated to families of veterans who suffer from PTSD.

One day when Starowitz was giving a tour of the museum, a group of younger men and women came in, not looking thrilled about being there. Starowitz spent a lot of time wondering what their stories were when someone from the group told her they were from Veterans Hospital PTSD Unit.

“I was so moved looking at them, the young people, younger than my children,” Starowitz said. “I wanted to really thank them for their service.”

As she continued talking with the visitors, she learned more about them.

“I can’t imagine what they went through, but I could see it in their eyes,” Starowitz said. “I never forgot their faces.”

Starowitz is hoping to make people aware of what veterans go through.

When Starowitz is substitute teaching, she shows the students the edited copies, showing them the writing process.

“I think that really made an impression on them,” Starowitz said. “They don’t always like to edit.”

When she was writing the articles, Starowitz enjoyed interviewing people the most.

“When I was little, I remember a horse and wagon coming down the street, delivering milk,” Starowitz said. “A family member from the Branton’s Dairy talked to me about that story. It was interesting because I could relate to that.”

Family members are flying in from all over the United States, and even Africa, to come to Starowitz’s book signing.

“Ken has supported me in so many of my endeavors,” Starowitz said. “I’m really honored to have a book signing at his restaurant.”

Photo (By Howard Owens): Anne Marie Starowitz signing copies of her book at the Holland Land Office Museum this weekend.

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