Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum receives $20,000 grant

City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow presents $20,000 in grant funding to the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum in Oswego through the city of Oswego’s COVID-19 REVIVAL fund for small businesses and local not-for-profit organizations.

OSWEGO - City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow announced $20,000 in grant funding has been awarded to the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum in Oswego through the city of Oswego’s COVID-19 REVIVAL fund for small businesses and local not-for-profit organizations. The funding, announced by city officials during a tour of recently installed new exhibits, will be used to complete additional exhibits, upgrade lighting, improve technology and offset revenue losses from the museum being closed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Safe Haven is one of Oswego’s most significant cultural assets, telling a remarkable story and attracting visitors from all over the world,” said Mayor Barlow. “I’m honored to deliver funding to the museum to improve operations, enhance visitor experiences and to offset pandemic-related revenue losses, helping to ensure the museum is solvent and functional for many years to come,” Barlow said.

The Safe Haven Museum tells story of the nearly 1,000 European refugees of the Holocaust who made the journey to America and called Fort Ontario in the city of Oswego home from 1944 to 1946. The Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter was the only such shelter in the entire United States for refugees of Hitler’s atrocities, making the site significant, yet unique within the context of local and United States history, as well as World War II history. The museum is staffed by part-time employees and governed by a nonprofit organization comprised of an all-volunteer board of directors, that encompasses individuals from various sectors within the local community and Central New York region. The museum is open year-round, with expanded hours during the summer, drawing visitors from throughout the United States and internationally, to the city of Oswego.

“The story of the Fort Ontario refugees is woven into the fabric of the Oswego community, and we have an obligation to preserve and protect this important piece of history for generations,” said Kevin Hill, President of the Safe Haven Board of Directors. “The pandemic has had a significant detrimental impact on our organization, with an extended closure during 2020 and 2021 limiting our ability to generate revenue through museum admission fees and in-person donations. We are so grateful to Mayor Barlow for understanding the hardship COVID-19 has created for local small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and for providing direct financial assistance to help mitigate those negative impacts, allowing us to continue to fulfill our mission of telling this incredible story of survival and hope,” Hill said.

The Safe Haven Museum is located at 2 E. Seventh St. in Oswego. Hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. from Labor Day to Memorial Day. For more information on the museum, visit

Mayor Barlow stated another $120,000 in funding has been made available from the city of Oswego’s American Rescue Plan funding to be used for a second round of the REVIVAL fund, used to assist small business and local non-profits with recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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