Allan Tereba has been working for the past three months to collect and write histories of Fitchburg businesses.
With more than 750 businesses in Fitchburg, there’s a lot of work to do.
Tereba, the Fitchburg Historical Society president, said the organization has previously collected a lot of material connected to early settlement and up through the Supreme Court case that allowed Fitchburg to incorporate in April, 1983. However, he thought it would be helpful to collect more recent materials.
“The businesses, having the histories of those, is just as important as having the history of the ‘20s or back in the 1800s,” Tereba said.
Carole Kinney, one of the founders of FHS in 1987 and a current board member and archivist, said she got involved partly because her husband’s roots in the area went back to 1844. She has watched and helped the organization over the past 30 years.
The FHS goal, she said, is to present that “History is yesterday, today and tomorrow.” And just as importantly, to make sure it’s easy for people to find.
“We don’t want this information just to be stuck in files here that we have in our office and in our storage area in the Fitchburg Library,” Kinney said. “We want to get it out.”
Tereba has been adding the business histories to the FHS website. Some, like Ganshert Nursery, have been in Fitchburg for over half a century and others, like Family Pharmacy, are much newer.
Tereba started the project by asking businesses to submit histories themselves.
After getting limited responses, he started writing some from newspaper articles and the business websites.
He still welcomes business submissions and hopes as more show up on the site, other businesses will be encouraged to participate.
“If someone comes to the site and is searching through businesses, they have the contact information,” he said. “We’re trying to promote businesses.”
The FHS website had 38 businesses under its “Business” tab as of Sept. 11. Included are links to the pages with the individual histories and a map of where the businesses are located.
Tereba updates the page in batches, as he has to change the map every time he does so. Still, he’s glad to be making progress and finding the histories these businesses have in the area.
“(It let’s) people find out about the history of Fitchburg without making an appointment,” Tereba said. “By having the website, they can do a lot of searching and hopefully find what they want, and if they don’t, they can contact us.”