In 1990, after much discussion about the importance of preserving the history of the cat, the cat fancy and CFA, a move was made by the CFA Board of Directors to establish the Cat Fanciers' Association Foundation, Inc. for just that purpose.
Monetary donations by several individuals and cat clubs gave the foundation its financial start. The library began with donations of books by supporters, and numerous historical artifacts were sought and purchased. One of our first major purchases was a silver collar and medal won by Cosey at an 1895 New York City show
One of the long-standing wishes of the Foundation was a permanent home. For numerous years, our library books were on exhibit in the Jean B. Rose Library at CFA's Central Office in Manasquan, New Jersey. The majority of collectibles were kept in storage facilities.
Occasionally, the foundation would set up a traveling display at a major event around the country, but the board members longed for a place to show off our complete and growing collection.
Enter CFA who, in 2010, decided to move out of New Jersey and purchased the former Midland & Buckeye Federal Savings & Loan building in Alliance, Ohio. As luck would have it, the ground floor of this former bank was a cavernous space that, once renovated, would be absolutely perfect for a museum.
Museum space prior to renovations
The Foundation signed a multi-year lease and started renovations - and what a task it was! Walls were taken down, ceilings were cleaned and painted, lighting was all renewed, flooring was torn up and new carpet installed, all the walls were painted, library cabinets were installed, etc. We hired electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters and a bevy of other local contractors. The end result being that we finally have a home!
Museum space after renovations
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on June 10, 2010 to offically open the renovated building, and we were resoundingly welcomed by the residents of Alliance and surrounding communities.
Visitors during ribbon cutting
None of this would have been possible had it not been for a bequeathal from the estate of Wilton E. Wheeldon and her mother, Gladys J. Wheeldon. In 2009, the CFA Foundation was the recipient of a generous donation and an enormous collection of cat figurines, collectibles and artwork. The funding allowed us to go ahead with the renovations, and much of the Wheeldon collection is what you see in the cabinets on display in the museum today.
After hearing about the opening of the museum, the Foundation was contacted by Donald Hargrove of Memphis, TN who volunteered to donate his entire collection of Maneki Nekos … numbering approximately 165 of them in all shapes, sizes, colors patterns and materials.
On February 1, 2012 the Feline Historical Museum opened its first special collection featuring the Maneki Neko, commonly called the Japanese Welcoming Cat. These cats are recognized worldwide and are thought to bring good luck and fortune to those who keep them in their business establishment or home.
Frank Lloyd Wright Cat House
The Cat Fanciers' Association Foundation, Inc. has acquired the 'Cat House' originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Gerald B. Tonkens family of Cincinnati.
The 4-foot square piece was designed in 1954 specifically for a cat belonging to Mr. Tonkens' daughter, Nancy. The design rendering by Thomas Olsen, the site supervisor, was created under the direction of Frank Lloyd Wright who had described his vision of the design during a phone call with Olsen. Today, Wright (1867-1959) is recognized as the greatest American architect of all time, and the cat house is considered as one of his more unique designs.
The cat house, a typical example of mid-20th century ultra-modern design, is painted in one of Wright's signature colors, Cherokee Red. The structure is accompanied by the original Olsen rendering, titled "Residents [sic] for Felis Catus", which shows a color illustration as well as the elevation and specifications for the project.
Thomas S. Monaghan, co-founder of Domino's Pizza, purchased the cat house at a Christie's auction in 1987, and it became a part of the famous Domino's Frank Lloyd Wright Collection. In 1993, Monaghan sold the cat house to a private collector in Wisconsin.
The CFA Foundation has recently purchased the cat house and it has now been returned to the state of Ohio, and is currently on display at the Feline Historical Museum.
Pixie is waiting to greet you!
A bronze of a silver tabby Persian -- Your Pets Pixie of Playwickey -- is waiting to greet visitors to the museum. Donated by Bruce and Diane Castor, the bronze is the work of reknowned sculptor J. Clayton Bright and is the only cat that he has ever produced.
Look for a QR CodeTM to Scan
As you wander the museum, look for QR (Quick Recognition) Codes available on our display content cards. Scanning these codes with your SmartPhone will either connect you to our web page about a particular item, or to text with additional info. We are adding additional QR Codes regularly!
Real, Live Cats in the Museum
Occasionally, the museum will treat visitors to the enjoyment of real live cats! Maine Coons and Ragdolls have had the run of the museum, which thoroughly delights visitors who get to hold, hug and play with the kittens and cats. Egyptian Maus and Japanese Bobtails have also showed off their feline agility skills.
We'll have the Maine Coons and Ragdolls back again during the summer, and they may be joined by Siberians and possibly a Manx. We are making plans to welcome the agility cats again during the summer as well. Watch our calendar for the dates!
Feline Historical Museum NOW OPEN in Alliance, Ohio
The Feline Historical Museum is now open at 260 East Main Street, Alliance, Ohio. Effective June 1, 2012, the museum hours are:
Tuesday through Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday 9:00am - 12:00pm
Please stop by and visit us! If you are interested in visiting with a group or as part of a tour, please email to make advance arrangements or call 330-680-4444 during museum hours. Directions can be found here. (Note: Please do not use Google Maps for directions. It will mistakenly direct you to the town of Wilmot, OH)
Keep in touch through our eNewsletter
Keep up to date with CFA Foundation and Feline Historical Museum activities through our newsletters. To receive the newsletter via email, sign up here.
Incorporated as a not-for profit corporation under laws of the state of New York on June 26, 1990. The foundation has been ruled not a private foundation, and is exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Accordingly, contributions to the foundation are deductible for Federal income, gift and estate tax purposes.