Amherst Historical Society enlists first executive director since 2011

The Amherst Historical Society's Simeon Strong House, at 67 Amity St., seen in August 2010.

The Amherst Historical Society's Simeon Strong House, at 67 Amity St., seen in August 2010. JOHN PHELAN/VIA WIKIPEDIA

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 06-19-2024 4:44 PM

AMHERST — For the first time since 2011, the Amherst Historical Society will have an executive director overseeing the nonprofit’s work in the community, including maintaining and improving the 1750s-era Simeon Strong House at 67 Amity St.

Liz Larson, who had been serving as the society’s treasurer, assumes the role of executive director on Monday, departing her position as interim director at the Amherst Business Improvement District.

Larson said in a statement that the historical society has received a number of important grants over the past few years.

“I am very much looking forward to building on these as we work to bring more of our programming to the community, both at the house and off site, and continue to grow our collaborations with other cultural stakeholders,” Larson said.

Since joining the organization in 2019, Larson has helped to stabilize its finances and actively participated in program development and strategic planning geared to meeting the vision of giving voice and opportunities to all stories from the Amherst community. Larson also co-created, with violinist Amanda Stenroos, the Strings at the Strong outdoor summer concert series, entering its fifth year.

The last executive director for the historical society was Patricia Lutz, who left to run the Washington County Historical Society in Wisconsin.

Historical Society President Gigi Barnhill said there are a series of recommendations that will need to be implemented in the coming years from an accessibility, engineering, and structural study being done this summer and fall. Larson, she said, will provide the leadership to deal with these issues and others that develop.

“Liz brings extensive knowledge of the community, administrative skills, creative thinking, and most of all enthusiasm for the mission and the work of the organization to the position,” Barnhill said.

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In addition to the museum, where this year’s exhibit is “Cambodians in Amherst,” the Historical Society puts on a series of talks over the course of the year, stages other events, and every February holds its Founders Day, where it awards the Arthur F. Kinney Conch Shell Award and brings a historian to talk about an Amherst-specific topic.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.