A new exhibit is opening today, with a special presentation occurring at 2pm. 2107 marks the 150 year anniversary of the SPCA Serving Erie County. That milestone might seem impressive, but it is even more so when you stop to consider that this is the second oldest in the nation. The founders were, of course animals lovers who wanted to make a mark on the issue of animal welfare. They astute and caring forward thinkers were President Millard Fillmore, William G. Fargo and Mrs. John C. Lord. It just so happens that all three are buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
The aforementioned exhibit – titled Lost and Found: Celebrating 150 Years of the SPCA – is starting today at Forest Lawn’s Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center. Visitors will get a chance to peruse rarely seen photos, illustrations and artifacts from the archives of the SPCA and Forest Lawn. Animal lovers and advocates will not want to miss viewing these materials that recount the early formations and heartfelt interests of the founders and their visions.
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Today, we take the efforts of the SPCA for granted. But can you imagine what it must have been like before this organization was formed? Especially at a time in history when many animals were considered tools for hard labor? Thankfully a number of animal advocates with strong voices decided to do something about the current conditions – for the first time, the animals had a voice.
Among the most interesting items are:
- A letter written by Millard Fillmore, sent to a congressman urging the passing of animal rights legislation
- A diploma from an animal welfare organization in Turin, Italy given to Mrs. John C. Lord
- Photos taken while investigating abuse claims to working animals
At 2pm, a special presentation will be made by the current Executive Director of the SPCA Serving Erie County, Gary Willoughby. Tickets are $15 for general admission (or $10 for pay-per-view), but are FREE for members of the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation.
Access to the exhibit itself is FREE. It can be seen at any time during the Margaret L. Wendt Center’s hours of operation, which is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. And in conjunction with the exhibit, we will be presenting a special an SPCA-themed trolley tour of Forest Lawn. The tour will begin with a view of the new exhibit, followed by an hour-long trip on the grounds, visiting the final resting places and hearing the stories of the founders of the SPCA, as well as an exploration of some of the most interesting animal-themed art that adorns many of the monuments in Forest Lawn. This special tour will be offered on April 8 and April 22 at 9:30 a.m. each day. Tickets are $15, but are FREE for members of the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation.