CANANDAIGUA – After just a month and a half on the job, the new executive director of the Ontario County Historical Society is already feeling at home.
Cody Grabhorn took over the helm on June 1st, just in time to celebrate the historic association’s third annual garden tour and fundraiser on Saturday, July 17th.
Grabhorn replaces the former managing director Marci Diehl, who stepped in when the long-time director of the Historical Society, Ed Varno, retired in 2020 after 25 years of service.
Diehl, an award-winning community leader and public speaker with experience in bringing professional and creative thinking to businesses and organizations, resigned in March for personal reasons, said Historical Society President Chris Hubler.
âWe are all sad that she is no longer leading our company into the future,â he said, and wished Diehl âall the best for her futureâ.
Looking ahead, Hubler is optimistic about the possibilities under Grabhorn’s leadership.
“Cody comes to us with excellent experience in the historical museum sector,” said Hubler. “His education, enthusiasm and leadership skills will put the organization in an excellent position for the future.”
Grabhorn will focus on new and existing programs, education and exhibitions, and build new and existing relationships within the community, he said.
Building these relationships will be critical to the organization as it addresses “some major improvements to the museum,” said Hubler.
Grabhorn said he was looking forward to working with the staff and volunteers of the historical society.
âOne advantage of a small museum is that you have a tightly knit staff,â says Grabhorn. “You get to know each other and find out what is best for everyone and how to grow together as a small team.”
Grabhorn is no stranger to small town life and grew up in a Midwestern community like Canandaigua. And after living in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and now the Finger Lakes, he said he was “not afraid to start anywhere”.
âI’m not that much on a career path,â said Grabhorn. “I’m actually looking for the perfect weather.”
The Historical Society’s third annual garden tour runs this Saturday, July 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes three private gardens, plus gardens at the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum, New York Kitchen, and the historic Morgan Samuels Inn and Venue.
Guests can stroll through the gardens and talk to faculty and homeowners about planting and concepts for each garden. The addresses are given in a colored brochure with tickets and on GPS for a self-guided tour. Toilets are available at Granger Homestead, New York Kitchen, and the Ontario County Historical Society.
Events like the garden tour “really allow the Ontario County Historical Society to remain a free and accessible organization,” Grabhorn said. “The money raised really makes a difference in smaller communities like ours, and we want OCHS to make a positive difference.”
The Historical Society team worked with members of the Sonnenberg Garden Club and the Ontario County Arts Council to select the gardens. As an added bonus, the Granger Homestead Carriage House will be open to guests with refreshments available for purchase. All income goes to the historical association.
“As an educational experience-focused person, I’m really grateful that my predecessors laid a foundation for this type of fundraising approach,” said Grabhorn. “Those are the things that allowed me to get in and take off right away.”
Tickets can be purchased from the Ontario County Historical Society for $ 25 on the day of the event, subject to availability. The OCHS Museum and Research Center is located at 55 N. Main St., Canandaigua.
With a view to the future, the latest exhibition of the Historical Society is aimed at all age groups.
Curated by Wilma Townsend, Our Family Companions: The History of Pets in Ontario County explores what defines a pet, how it is cared for, and how its perception has changed over the past 200 years. See new and old photos of beloved family dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and other animals, paintings of pets, children’s toys, and stories that pets use as characters, and the story of pet food and accessories. This exhibition is open until the end of April 2022.
“Mini-Makers Week: Make Art in an Historic Way” is being held Tuesday through Friday, August 17-20, in partnership with the Ontario County Arts Council. Every day, children in grades 4-6 spend two hours learning how to make paper, ink, clay stamps, and more.
Grabhorn said he was looking forward to what is in store for the historical association, the community and himself.
“I really want to build a friendship, a partnership with the community,” said Grabhorn. “We are here for you.”
Via Ontario County Historical Society
The Ontario County Historical Society is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit company founded in 1902. She owns and operates a community history museum in the historic district of Canandaigua and is part of the New York State Path Through History. The society is not affiliated with any government agency and operates through public donations, membership funds, and limited public and private grants.