New Fenton Director Wants To Make History Personal

A personal connection to history is how the new executive director of the Fenton History Center wants to get people involved in learning about the past.

Noah Goodling was hired in August to be the new executive director of the Fenton History Center. Even though he is new to the position, Goodling already has goals and plans for opening the doors to more visitors.

“I want to put my own personal spin on improvements. I’m looking at new exhibits,” he said. “The Hall House with the genealogy is where we can make a personal connection for people. I want to get people interested in the past. There is something here for every age group. I’ve studied and spent my career on public history. Trying to make it interesting for everybody by making a personal connection.”

Goodling was born in Warren, Pa., then moved at the age of nine to Corning. He joked that when he is asked if he is local by the new people he meets, he responds by saying, “I’m local-ish.”

Goodling earned his degree in history from Allegheny College. He then lived and worked in the Jamestown community for a year, gaining experience at the Chautauqua Archives and the Robert H. Jackson Center. From there, he departed to the midwest to pursue graduate school at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and ended up working for a couple of museums and organizations including the Indiana Historical Society, the National Council on Public History, and, most recently, serving as the college archivist for Thomas Nelson Community College in Virginia.

Goodling said he moved back to the area because Chautauqua County felt more like home to him than living in the midwest or in the south. He said his passion for history has always been a lifelong pursuit. He added that his father, John Goodling, has always been interested in antiques.

“I’ve been surrounded by interesting things my whole life. When we got a new piece of furniture we didn’t get it from Ikea,” he said. “On vacations we didn’t just go to the beach, but also places like Colonial Williamsburg.”

Goodling said so far he has been impressed by how hands-on the Fenton History Center Board of Trustees have been and how knowledgeable the staff is on the history of Chautauqua County.

“I’m excited to be back in the community. The community is up-and-coming. There is a sense of progress and forward momentum,” he said. “I recognize the current of positive change and I want to be one of those currents. It felt like a good time to be a part of that.”