The Montezuma Historical Society chartered in 2006 through the New York State Education Department is a not for profit organization (501c3) comprised of members who are dedicated to preserving the history of the area. Since its founding, the Society has been actively restoring and preserving the Historic Mentz Church.
Several members of the Board serve on the Montezuma Design Committee as Friends of the Montezuma Heritage Park to help preserve our rich Erie Canal Heritage. One of the Society’s most exciting projects is are two historic murals that were sponsored by MHS for the Park and Town. The murals were painted by Dawn Jordan, muralist to has painted several murals in communities on the Erie Canal History from Macedon to Syracuse. In 2009, an Archaeological Dig was conducted under the guidance of David Babson, Archaeologist. This has resulted in a collection of artifacts from the Clinton’s Ditch Lock 62 site in the area of the lock tenders home.
The Montezuma Historical Society fosters local community pride in our heritage to ensure that our history will be preserved and appreciated for generations to come. We are committed to encouraging public interest by sponsoring historical meetings, educational programs, and supporting the preservation of our historic resources.
Through the preservation of the Historic Mentz Church, the Montezuma Historical Society will educate and inspire the community to share our history and the importance of its Erie Canal Heritage.
Specially scheduled programs are offered seasonally between May and October NY. In addition to programs at the former Mentz Church, we host events in Montezuma Heritage Park including historic walking tours and a Montezuma 5K Run/Walk. Check our calendar for scheduled events.
Nestled In the rural countryside of the Town of Montezuma, Cayuga County, NY, the history of the church began in 1825, when early settlers built the church on what was known as Mentz Corners, It was incorporated as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Mentz. It is now surrounded by a cemetery on three sides with over 200 of its early ancestors.
In 2003, the Town of Montezuma acquired the Historic Mentz Church. The church received the honor of being named to the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2004. A preservation committee met monthly to plan events to be used for the enrichment of the community through cultural, social and local church activities. Beginning in the early Spring of 2005 volunteers began restoration with many hours of work donated to removing wallpaper, painting, restoring the original front doors, cleaning, window replacement, and restoring the electricity.
On Sunday, May 15, 2005, almost one hundred, eighty years to the day of its incorporation, the community honored and celebrated it’s re-opening and listing as a historic place.
In 2006, the Montezuma Historical Society was formed, with its home located at the Historic Mentz Church on Mentz Church and McDonald Roads in the Town of Montezuma. A new historic roadside marker was generously funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation in 2012. A special dedication was held on Path Through History Weekend, June 2, 2013.
Monthly board business meetings are held monthly at the Montezuma Town Hall. Our meetings are open to any member who would like to attend. All the work of the Society is strictly volunteer-driven and is done by various committees. The Historical Society depends on contributions of both time and money through our membership, others who are interested, and in fundraising to help preserve the town’s rich history. If you are a member and are interested in attending our business meetings, serving on the Board or on a committee, please contact us.
President – Mellony Carner; Lori Fletcher – Vice President; Kathleen Shaw Decker – Treasurer; Secretary – Cheryl Longyear; Trustees – Bunny and Paul Baker, Jim Decker, Carol Fordyce, Shirley Gillmore, Kathy Longyear, Stan Longyear.
The board completed a three-year Strategic Plan with the help of funding received from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to chart a course for organizational development and sustainability. The purpose is to facilitate the continued preservation, interpretation, and enhancement of significant canal sites and historic properties in Montezuma. Pictured on the left are MHS Board members plotting out our priorities with Consultant, Sally Treanor
On October 17, 2018, at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, board members of the Montezuma Historical attended a ceremony to accept an award from the Preservation Association of Central New York. The 2018 Jasena R. Foley Education Award recognizes individuals or groups who educate, promote, engender, or advocate a preservation ethic in CNY. PACNY recognized MHS’s dedication and significant contribution to our efforts to preserve historic resources in Montezuma Heritage Park. We were thrilled and grateful to PACNY for recognizing the work we have done in our community.