Greater Oneonta
Historical Society

P.O. Box 814
Oneonta, NY 13820

Upcoming Events

All events are free and open to the public unless noted otherwise.

Wednesday July 4

Once again GOHS will be at the annual Hometown 4th of July in Neahwa Park. Look for the GOHS table near the historic Red Caboose. Railroad historian Jim Loudon will be giving tours of the Caboose in the afternoon.

Friday July 6

Fabulous Friday ice cream sundaes will be served 5 to 8 PM by hosts Linda Wilcox and Jim Johnson.

Wednesday July 18

Bob Brzozowski and Gary Wickham will lead a walking tour of “Downtown Revitalization Then & Now”. This walk on Main and Market Streets will focus on the urban renewal plans of the 1970s and today’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). The tours begin at 7 PM at the History Center, and is by donation.

Friday July 20

“Oneonta’s Own: The State Militia & the National Guard in Oneonta, 1812 – 2003” continues at the History Center. Open 12 noon to 8 PM.

Saturday July 21

GOHS will hold a fund raiser for the building project at Deer Haven Campground, 180 Deer Haven Lane. Live music will be provided by Flux Capacitor, Otsego County's premier 80s cover band. Admission is $25. The event begins at 6 PM and ends at 10 PM, rain or shine. There will be snacks, and an open bar with beer, wine, and soft drinks from 6 to 8 PM and a cash bar from 8 to 10 PM. Proceeds from the event will be applied to the Challenge Match! Tickets will be on sale at the event (cash) and at the History Center (cash, check, or credit card).

Tuesday July 31

The walking tour of historic Emmons Farms, led by Emmons descendants, begins at 7 PM and will be followed by refreshments outside Woodchuck Knoll. Tickets are $6 for GOHS members; $7 for non-members. The tour is limited to 30 people -– and has been sold out every time it has been offered. Reserve your spot by contacting info@OneontaHistory.org or (607) 432-0960. We will try to accommodate persons with mobility issues, but please let us know at the time of your reservation. Parking is available in the Farmhouse at Emmons’ lot, where the tour begins.

Friday August 3

Fabulous Friday brownie sundaes will be served 5 to 8 PM, hosted by Irene Curley and Liz Morley.

Wednesday August 8

There will be a tour of the historic Fairchild Mansion, now the Oneonta Lodge of the Free & Accepted Masons. Past Master of Lodge 466 Bruce Van Buren and other Masons will be our guides through this building on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Tours of small groups will leave between 7 and 8 PM. Meet at the portico on the west side of the Lodge at 322 Main Street. The fee is $2 for GOHS members; $3 for non-members.

Wednesday August 15

Bob Brzozowski and Gary Wickham will lead another walking tour of “Downtown Revitalization Then & Now”. This walk on Main and Market Streets will focus on the urban renewal plans of the 1970s and today’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). The tours begin at 7 PM at the History Center, and is by donation.

Sunday August 26

GOHS is hosting its second annual band concert in Huntington Park at 2 PM. The Oneonta Community Band will be playing selections from John Philip Sousa and other American band standards. Sousa, “The March King”, and his band made several visits to Oneonta, arriving by train, marching down Main Street, and playing at the Oneonta Theatre. The concert in the park is free. There will be a freewill donation toward efforts to save the historic National Register property in which Sousa played. The concert will be in the area of the Park along Dietz St. Bring a chair or blanket. There is ample street parking as well as in the Wall St. and Dietz Street lots. The concert will be postponed in the event of inclement weather. Thanks to the Jackson H. Fenner Foundation for its support of this event.

Thursday August 31

One of the Building Fund raisers for the $30,000 Challenge Match is a 50/50 Raffle. Tickets are $1.00 or 6 for $5/00, and are being sold at the History Center and at GOHS off-site events. The drawing will take place at the History Center at 4 PM. There’s no need to be present to win. Half the money will go to the winner and half to the building fund, with the building fund total matched by anonymous donors.

Friday November 16

Annual Benefit Auction at the Holiday Inn.

Tuesday September 25

GOHS is planning a bus trip to historic Stockbridge, Massachusetts! Click here for more information on the trip and a registration form. Registration forms are also available at the Oneonta History Center.

April 28 - May 2, 2019

The Greater Oneonta Historical Society presents Spotlight on San Antonio! GOHS in cooperation with Collette Tours is sponsoring a trip to San Antonio, Texas, in Spring 2019. Highlights of the tour include:

  • Tours of Mission San Jose, the Alamo, and the Texas Heritage Center or San Antonio Botanical Gardens;
  • Visit to the “Texas White House”, the home of Lyndon B. Johnson;
  • Boat ride on the Paseo del Rio also known as the River Walk;
  • Visit to a picturesque olive orchard with wine and olive oil tasting; and
  • Two special dinners and other free time to explore San Antonio on your own.

Are you interested in getting more information about this trip? Brochures are available at the History Center. 10% of what Collette charges participants comes back to GOHS. 




GOHS News


Oneonta’s Own: The State Militia & National Guard in Oneonta, 1812-2003

GOHS’ new exhibition explores the history of the state militia and Army National Guard in Oneonta. “Oneonta’s Own: The State Militia & National Guard in Oneonta, 1812-2003,” features artifacts and images drawn from the collection of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs. Many were previously displayed in the Oneonta Armory and transferred to the Military Museum when the National Guard vacated the building in 2003. The exhibition curator is Oneonta native Courtney Burns, director of military history for the NYS Division of Military & Naval Affairs. For nearly 200 years, Oneonta had a military presence from the first militia company formed in 1812 through a detachment of D Company, 204th Engineer Battalion, which left the city in 2003. Oneonta’s National Guard served in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. During the Cold War, Oneonta’s National Guard remained on alert as part of the primary reserve force for the Active Army. As part of an engineer battalion in the 1970s through the 1990s it was an invaluable resource for numerous public works projects and snow and flood emergencies throughout Otsego County. “Oneonta’s Own” will continue through August 25.

BELOW: Soldiers of Oneonta's D Company, 204th Engineer Battalion prepare site for new soccer field at Hartwick College, 1978. Converted to engineers in 1967, Oneonta's National Guard assisted with numerous public works projects throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.

Hartwick College, 1978


Oneonta Theatre Update

Spring is in the air, and things are looking up! Monthly meetings at the History Center of the Oneonta Theatre working group give reason for optimism. GOHS and/or the Friends of the Oneonta Theatre (FOTOT) will apply for a grant for experts to explore how the Oneonta Theatre might be restored and operated as a viable non-profit venue.

FOTOT is in the process of refreshing its Board. Board members will help the planning consultants reach out and communicate with the local performing arts community and audiences as they conduct their study. After extensive input from the local and regional community, the consultants will prepare a detailed business plan and budget outlining an appropriate and sustainable approach to operating the historic theater. Along with the management planning study, a performing arts architectural firm will conduct a study of the building itself. They will report in detail on its present condition, and provide us with recommendations and an estimate of what it would take to repair and restore the 120-year-old theater. The final report will made available to the public, including at a public forum.

FOTOT is developing a new website and Facebook page to help our many supporters and interested members of the public stay informed about the progress of the study, and receive timely notice of the opportunities to participate in the process.

In the meantime, FOTOT is also working with the owner Tom Cormier to fix a minor leak in the roof over the stage, as soon as the weather permits the work to be done.

Oneonta Theatre Marquee 1967


Tour the History Center

Take a walk with GOHS executive director Bob Brzozowski through the three floors of the Oneonta History Center. (Video in mid-November 2017 by Nate Brzozowski; final editing by Dan Velle of Sweet Home Productions.)


GOHS Highlights of 2016-2017

Click on the link to read the GOHS Highlights of 2016-2017.

Harvey Baker Book on Oneonta History

In 1892 and 1893 Harvey Baker, arguably the most important presence in the history of Oneonta, penned a series of sixty-three articles on the area's history for the Oneonta Herald. GOHS has compiled the articles into a new book, Oneonta in Olden Time & Bits of Oneonta History: An Interesting Series of Articles by Harvey Baker, Published in the Oneonta Herald During the Years 1892-1893.

Harvey Baker was a prolific writer who contributed to several Otsego County papers throughout his life. His articles for the Oneonta Herald are his account of how Oneonta evolved from aboriginal lands to frontier settlements, a bustling village, and eventually to a railroading powerhouse. Based on his research of the area's history dating back to colonial times and up to the current events of his lifetime, Baker covers topics as diverse as the American Revolution and Civil War, family histories, regional folklore, local newspapers, churches and schools, Native American legends, turnpikes and canals, and local geography and ecology. His description of the development of the railroad from Albany to Binghamton is of major interest; Baker is considered by many to have single-handedly built the Albany & Susquehanna railroad. This current publication of Baker's history, compiled by GOHS, makes it widely accessible for the first time since its initial publication more than one hundred years ago.

Born in Broome County, New York in 1818, Harvey Baker became a mechanic and millwright at an early age. He began rebuilding water wheels in saw, grist, and other mills and factories. He first visited Oneonta in February 1841, when he made his first contract to put his wheels into the local mills. In addition to his mechanical skills, Baker was a gifted public speaker and lobbyist who worked for decades to bring the railroad to Oneonta. An original stockholder of the Albany & Susquehanna railroad, he also contracted to build the rail beds, bridges, and trestles, personally supervising the work between Albany and Binghamton. He later purchased and developed land near Oneonta, selling it to the Delaware & Hudson railroad for their machine shops. In community life, Baker served as Oneonta village president and town supervisor, was a charter trustee of the Oneonta Savings Bank, and owned the Howe's Cave and Lime Company. He also owned two farms and wrote extensively on farming in the Otsego Farmer. Baker died at his home in Oneonta in 1904.

"GOHS is really thrilled about the publication of this book," said GOHS Director Bob Brzozowski. "It's been a project three years in the making, and through our collaboration with Square Circle Press, we are finally seeing it come to fruition." The book reproduces the articles exactly as they were published—typographical errors, spelling variations, and all. "We felt it was important to preserve the text as published, not only to create a primary source document for researchers and historians, but also to preserve the character of an older newspaper," Brzozowski stated.

The book is laid out chronologically according to the dates the articles were published, but the table of contents is arranged according to similar subject matters, such as railroads, family histories, schools, churches, and more. "Along with the index and illustrations that will be included, we feel this will be a valuable contribution to the scholarship of upstate New York, Otsego County, and Oneonta in particular. Plus, it's just really great reading," added Brzozowski.

Click here to read excerpts from the book, which is published by Square Circle Press and retails for $22.95. Books are available at the History Center or at www.squarecirclepress.com

183 Main Street: 150 Years of History

Click here for a slide show for a look at the Oneonta History Center and the five previous occupants of the first floor of the oldest brick building on Main Street.

Oneonta in 100 Objects

The Greater Oneonta Historical Society (GOHS) invites students at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College to participate in the development of Oneonta in One Hundred Objects.

Student Research Opportunity
Students will develop research on an individual object or a small group of objects representing Oneonta’s past, present, and/or future. Themes to consider include, but are not limited to, Oneonta’s built and natural environments, culture, politics, economics, ecology and geology, etc. The objects will be selected from the GOHS collections.

The project is open to students from all disciplines across the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences. Interdisciplinary approaches, from museum studies to women’s and gender studies to environmental studies, are especially encouraged.

Requirements: Students will enroll in Independent Study at their institutions, undertake their own semester-long research with guidance from faculty advisors that results in a final product (such as a paper or Web page), then present their projects at the Oneonta History Center at an event at the end of the term. Students working with objects at the Oneonta History Center must honor GOHS protocols concerning access to the objects (including practices of handling and care and the facility’s hours). Because the projects will become part of the GOHS collections, we encourage final products that will be resources for future exhibition and research. Note: This is not an internship. Interested students should review their institution’s requirements for Independent Study projects, including policies concerning grades, with their faculty advisors.

Getting Started: Students intending to undertake research should begin their preparations during the preceding semester. Talk with your faculty advisor. Look at our Website (www.oneontahistory.org). Visit the Oneonta History Center (at the corner of Main and Dietz) during regular hours (Fridays 12 noon to 3pm and Saturdays 10am to 4pm, with other times for special events or by prior arrangement). Make an appointment with the GOHS Historian.

Plan Ahead! GOHS must receive a copy of the student's Independent Study form (with signatures and project description) in a timely manner.

Contact: GOHS volunteer Sallie Han at Sallie.Han@oneonta.edu

Students, follow this link for more information About the Project.

Please note that persons not enrolled in Hartwick or SUNY Oneonta may also engage in this research opportunity, without being enrolled in an independent study course. To pursue this opportunity, contact info@OneontaHistory.org

GOHS Gift Shop

Click here to see what's available at the GOHS Gift Shop!

Oneonta Bumper Sticker
Bumper Sticker

GOHS Mural Project

GOHS is undertaking an arts and history project that will result in five murals along the Dietz Street walls of the Oneonta History Center. The five murals will be painted by artist Carol Mandigo over the first floor windows which were bricked in decades ago. The murals will reflect daily life of the previous occupants of the 1866 building, the oldest brick building on Main Street.

The first use of the 1866 building was as a hardware store, for decades owned by Walter Brown and partners. During the 1870s it also was the first Oneonta location of Wilber Bank. For more than thirty years it was the Laskaris restaurant, ice cream parlor, and candy store. When the restaurant moved to the corner of Main and Chestnut, Antonia Chrones opened Jo-Ann Dress Shop at the location. Most recently it was the site of Galinn's Jewelry.

Carol Mandigo has a degree in Fine Arts from Stony Brook University and has been painting murals for many years. She is the co-founder with John Potocnik of the Catskill Puppet Theater Her great-grandparents owned Winney Hotel on Broad Street in Oneonta in the early 1900s. As Mandigo wrote in the grant application, "Windows in Time will be a long lasting, meaningful and highly visible public art project that will enhance Main Street and help Oneonta toward its goal of being a center for arts and culture in the area."

Executive Director Bob Brzozowski helped initiate the project. "It's part of the Society's mission to beautify Oneonta and make the Society’s building -- and Downtown -- come alive in a way that honors the history of the community." A bronze plaque near each mural will describe the corresponding era of the building's history. This program is made possible with public funds administered by the Chenango Arts Council, and is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) with support from Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature. The project was also supported by Main Street Oneonta and many private donors.

GOHS Plaque Program

GOHS has teamed with Erie Landmark Company to offer bronze and aluminum custom and specialty plaques. These include custom and standard plaques for the State and National Register of Historic Places sites. The original Walnut Street Historic District plaques are from Erie Landmark. Plaques come in various sizes, fonts and mounts, and may include photographs. Time capsules are also available.

Erie Landmark plaques are made by the Paul W. Zimmerman Foundries Company in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Information on the offerings can be found in print form at the History Center or by visiting www.ErieLandmark.com. The price is discounted on many of the plaques, if ordered through GOHS. Through this program, GOHS hopes to raise awareness of Oneonta's rich history with plaques in the Downtown Historic District and at other historic sites in the town and city.

For more information, contact Bob Brzozowski at director@oneontahistory.org or 431-9509.

Stephen Joseph Photos

Stephen Joseph's new book of photographs, Oneonta 360, is for sale at the History Center. Published by Oneonta's own Argian Press, the book of more than 80 local photos, retails for $40.00.

The original photos from the July 2008 SUNY Oneonta exhibit "Portrait of a Town: Stephen Joseph Celebrates Oneonta"remain on sale at the History Center, with part of the proceeds to benefit GOHS. (See Words & Pictures for examples of Steve's work and a link to his web site.)

Player Piano CDs!

GOHS now offers two CDs of player piano music, both recorded at the History Center. The player piano in the GOHS collection is from Oneonta's GB Shearer Company. It was donated in memory of Margaret Crandell, and was restored by Dave and Tom Smith of Upright Mechanical Music of Bainbridge, with partial funding from the Jackson H. Fenner Foundation, which also supported the second CD.

"Player Piano Plus" became available in December 2016. Local vocalists JoAnn Chmielowski, Stan Fox, Ciara Martinez, Duncan Smith, Judy Tator, and Too Many Divas sing on twelve classic songs such as "Puttin' on the Ritz," "Buttons & Bows" and "Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me". The vocalists were recorded in a studio to player piano music recorded at the History Center. The CD was produced by Brett Masteller, a former member of the music department at SUNY Oneonta.

Nineteen selections were chosen for the first CD from the GOHS piano roll collection. Classics such as "My Blue Heaven," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" are included as well as obscure oldies like "The Vamp," "All American Girl" and the "Husia Usia Polka". The CD was produced by independent music and video producer Keith Rodan.

The CDs are available at the History Center or by mail. They sell for $12 plus tax (postage for mail orders). For more information, call 607-432-0960 or email info@oneontahistory.org.

2016 Player Piano CD poster



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