The Friends of the Aiken County Historical Museum is a non-profit organization whose purpose is the advancement of the study and the appreciation of local history through promotion and financial support of the operations and activities of the Museum. We need your help to enable the Museum to better preserve the county's unique history.
The Friends of the Aiken County Historical Museum has established an unendowed fund to provide support for scholarship(s) for academically talented students at the University of South Carolina Aiken. The scholarship is in memory of the late Carolyn Miles, former director of the Museum, and will be awarded to a student at USC-Aiken (sophomore or higher) who is a history major with a preference given to a student interested in Southern History or historical preservation or conservation. The scholarship is renewable. Contributions to the fund are gratefully accepted and may be made by mailing your donation to: The Friends of the Aiken County Historical Museum; 433 Newberry St., SW; Aiken, SC 29801.Membership Benefits
The privileges of membership include: a 10% discount at the Museum Store, receipt of the quarterly newsletter, Banksia Columns, members-only events, and voting privileges at the Friends Annual Meeting.
Recent "Friends" projects include:The purchase of a computer that will hold collections and membership on on one dedicated computer.
The purchase of a printing system to enable in-house publishing (newsletter and brochures).
The establishment of an Acquisitions Fund to obtain artifacts.
The purchase of tables and linens for rental use.
The purchase of garden supplies for the grounds.
The purchase of upgraded museum software .
The refinishing and installation of some original interior doors and semicircular "fan" pieces.
The joint purchase (along with the Aiken County Historical Commission) of a piano for the Ballroom.
For more information on volunteer opportunities, please call the Museum at 803-642-2015 or click here for a membership form. The Museum is fortunate to have so many docents who help our efforts in so many ways. One of the opportunities is to volunteer during Museum hours. If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact Jann Smith, Desk Docent Coordinator or Mary White, Assistant Director. Both can be reached by calling 803-642-2015.
|Elliott Levy, Executive Director (2006-Current) |
Originally from Maine, Elliott took on "Save the Kate," a 115' vessel built in 1913 found stuck in the icy waters of Moosehead Lake. After spending five years focused on raising money and getting the right people to bring the vessel back into working condition, he moved on to taking care of the Maine State Building, originally built in 1893 to represent Maine in the Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) in Chicago. Clearly Elliott has a passion for history and his positive energy is contagious. Our Aiken County Historical Museum has seen a huge improvement and is now a "must-see" stop for Aiken residents and visitors to learn about Aiken County and the exciting people that made Aiken County a place worth seeing.
|Mary White, Education and Art Director and Assistant Director (2007-Current)|
Florida State University and University of North Florida
Mary moved to Aiken in 1984 and has been with the Museum since 1995. It was here she found her true passion. Mary has the ability to make history come alive for school children with real food and historical artifacts. She also thoroughly enjoys in the planning and development of the Museum as well. Contact Mary for Outreach and On-Site Development Programs:
Home School Programs
Trunk Show Outreach Programs
On-Site Events and Meeting Planning
|Brenda Baratto, Assistant Director (2007-Current)|
AS - Education BA- History; Georgia State University
Brenda has lived in several different states and has found a way to be involved either with work or as a volunteer in historical organizations. She worked for the National Archives at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta as well as serving as a docent there for over 10 years. She is a district representative for the Confederation of South Carolina Local Historical Societies as well as President of the Heritage Council of North Augusta. Brenda hopes to instill her love of history in her grandchildren and is always ready to meet new people and listen to their stories.
|Jim Eanes, President Jim is currently serving as President of the Friends Board. Volunteer opportunities such as both patient and Gift Shop Sales representative at Aiken Regional Medical Centers, S.C. Conference Delegate for St. John's UMC, and extensive representation for Optimist International have all been filled by Jim. Jim received his B.S. from West Virginia Institute of Technology and his M.S. at Marshall University. He and his wife, Jewell, have two children and three grandchildren.|
|Frederica Lofquist, Vice President A native of the Northeast, Frederica divided her childhood between Philadelphia (during the school year) and New Hampshire and Maine (during the summer months). Following her marriage to Alden, two children and life in many parts of the United States, she came to Aiken in 1990.|
Her interests include her grandchildren, being active in many of the Patriotic Genealogical Societies, travel, reading, knitting, antiques, horses and carriages, and, of course, people. Volunteering at the Racing Hall of Fame and the Aiken County Historical Museum are a constant of her calendar.
|Penny Alexander, Treasurer Penny was born and raised in Connecticut but has managed to live in every U.S. time zone! She retired from an international money management firm in the mid-90s where she worked in the area of securities compliance. She and Jed moved to Aiken from Atlanta in 1997 and have been members of the Friends since 1998. They share their house with two lab-mix rescue dogs, Dodger and Annie. Penny and Jed have been members of the FRIENDS since 1998.|
|Richard Smoot, Past President Dick was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. He held supervisory/management positions in the U.S. Navy (33 years) Beech Aerospace Services and Johnson & Johnson. His interest in history started at the tender age of ten when he loved to map out scenes from U.S. battles. Over the last eight years, to help him learn more about history, he has focused his time by collecting U.S. paper money and coins along with learning Aiken County history as a docent.|
|Toni Gerstenberg, Recording Secretary
Evangeline (Toni) Gerstenberg was born and educated in New York City. She graduated from Mills College of Education, now part of New York University, with a degree in education.|
She did graduate studies at Hunter College in Manhattan. As part of her college experience, Toni was an intern at the American Museum of Natural History working in the "Children's Science Center." She was a teacher and administrator for thirty-eight years. She has been married to her husband, Robert, (the Museum's resident pianist) for forty-seven years. They have two daughters living in New York and both are also in education. Toni & Robert have three grandchildren who enjoy visiting Banksia when they are in town. The Gerstenbergs have been living in Aiken full-time for six years but have been visiting Aiken and Banksia for at least thirty years. One of her greatest joys and experiences has been being part of the Banksia family.
|Arlene Lane, Membership Secretary Arlene and her husband, Bob, moved to Aiken in 1989 for employment at the Savannah River Site where she worked as a computer data analyst. After leaving SRS in 1993, she began various volunteer activities which utilized her experience with personal computers and as a data analyst. She began as a docent at the Aiken County Historical Museum and then became the Friends of the Museum Board Secretary. She helped refine the Membership database before becoming the Membership Secretary and exporting the database to the current PastPerfect software. Arlene received both her B.S. and M.S. from the University of Illinois.|
|Mary Elizabeth Ahern, Director Retired to Aiken in 1990 from Michigan. She and her husband chose Aiken over many retirement areas they had visited for may reasons, among them: the change of seasons, mild winters, good golf courses. All these reminded them of their roots, being from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.|
|Del Hickey, Director Del and her husband, David Andrews, fell in love with Aiken and moved here in August of 2000. They purchased a Winter Colony home with an interesting history and bad plumbing. Renovating it was so much fun that they are now on their fourth house in Aiken, and their second Winter Colony home. When she arrived in Aiken, she discovered the Museum, took docent training and has been there most every Friday (except in the summer) ever since. Her love of history and charm of Aiken led to membership and then president of the The Historic Aiken board. Del has regularly taught about Winter Colony homes as a part of the Lecture Series here at the Museum. Currently, she and her husband are renovating Horsehaven with the help of their three dogs: Moose, Clancy and Moxie. If she had her druthers, she'd live in Banksia.|
|Ed Cottongim, Director John E. "Ed" Cottongim hails from East Point, Georgia, from where he joined the U.S. Army (Infantry) in 1943. Later, Ed received an Army appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He received a BS from the USMA and later a MSBA from George Washignton University. He has also graduated from the Air Command and Staff College of the Air University; the Graduate Industrial Administration Program of the Air Force Institute of Technology; and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces of the Department of Defense. Ed's more memorable assignments were three years in Japan with Fifth Air Force; five years with the Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base; five years with the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. and his final assignment as an advisor to the Iranian Imperial Air Force in Tehran, Iran before retiring as a Colonel in 1975. Subsequent to retirement from the Air Force, Ed has been an Executive Vice President of several trade associations in Washington, D.C.; a Consultant; Realtor for both residential and commercial properties in Northern Virginia and co-owner (with his wife, Wanda) of a charter yacht brokerage business for yachts in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. Ed's current activities involve serving as a docent at the Museum, travel, reading and the computer.|
|Bob Popiel, Director Robert E. Popiel was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduation from Technical High School, he was offered a position at Harvard University Computation Lab as an electronic research technician where he worked for two years. He then joined Raytheon Company in Missile and Radar Component Research while taking Co-op Courses at Northeastern University where he graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Technology. He was later selected as the Raytheon Project Engineer for the transfer of missile component design know-how involving several missions to European NATO nations. In mid-career, he relocated to South Florida taking a position with Pratt and Whitney. He also later took engineering and management positions with a division of Gulf & Western, Eastern Airlines, eventually retiring from Motorola. Bob and his artist wife, Jane, relocated to Aiken, S.C. in May, 2006 where he became an Aiken County Historical Museum docent that same year. He continues to be an active docent and participant at Banksia to this date. Bob stays active as an enthusiastic gardener and mainly with his interests of history, philatelics, and numismatics and is a member of the CSRA Coin Club.|
|Jack Romeo, Director Jack received his Bachelor's and MBA from Wayne State University along with a Master's from Central Michigan University. A retired CPA, his resume includes: Data Processing Manager at GM, Consultant with Price Waterhouse, 15 years as Hospital CFO; 10 years as Benefits Manager at Bethlehem Steel. After retirement, he moved to Aiken in 2002. He a former volunteer Treasurer and instructor with SeniorNet at USCAiken and currently provides income tax preparation services as a volunteer with AARP and VITA. Originally from Detroit, moved here from Bethlehem, Pa. He is married with three children and seven grandchildren.|
Click here for the Current Membership List