Robert J. Harris Endowment of the Historical Society of Dunkirk
The Board of Trustees of the Historical Society of Dunkirk recently created an endowment with the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF) honoring the late Bob Harris of Dunkirk. The endowment recognizes the many years Bob Harris served the Historical Society and the people of Dunkirk. Bob was a founding member of the Historical Society and Museum in 1973. He served as its first Treasurer and Curator. In 1979, he worked with the City of Dunkirk and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to secure the former Christian Science church on Washington Avenue as the permanent home of the Dunkirk Historical Museum. The museum in its new site opened in 1980.
Bob was the President of the Historical Society from 1980-87, and museum Curator until 1988. He was deeply involved in securing and restoring Brooks Locomotive 444 and railroad exhibit located at the Chautauqua Fairgrounds, as well as the restoration of the 1883 Neptune Fountain, completed in 2001. In 2000, the mayor appointed him Dunkirk City Historian, a position he held until 2015. In 1978, Bob spearheaded the committee to put the Dunkirk Lighthouse on the National Historic Register. Bob Harris was a frequent guest presenter in schools around the city. He was admired for his deep knowledge of Dunkirk and his skill in bringing it to life. All who knew Bob are grateful for his friendship and generosity, as well as his love for Dunkirk and its people.