All events are free and open to the public unless noted otherwise.
Saturday February 8
At 2:00 PM Harry Bradshaw Matthews will speak on “The Underground Railroad Along the Susquehanna River: The Freedom Journey from Harford County, Maryland, to Otsego County, New York”. Matthews is Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs and Founding President of the U.S. Colored Troops Institute for Local & Family History at Hartwick College. The presentation and related display panels reflect the findings in Bradshaw’s book, African American Freedom Journey in New York and Related Sites, 1823-1870: Freedom Knows No Color (2008). Updated information about the Underground Railroad in Oneonta will be included. The program is free and open to the public.
Friday February 21
GOHS is joining with Hanford Mills Museum, Hartwick College’s Yager Museum, Oneonta World of Learning, and SUNY Oneonta’s A.J. Read Science Discovery Center to provide children’s activities during the week of February 17, 2020, which is February vacation for the Oneonta School District. Hanford Mills Museum will offer two program options for families at the History Center on February 21 between 1:00 and 3:00 PM. Both programs are available free of charge and with no reservations required.
Saturday April 18
GOHS' 16th annual Postcard, Book, & Ephemera Show & Sale will be held on Saturday April 18 from 10 AM to 3:30 PM in the social hall at Elm Park Methodist Church, 401 Chestnut Street, Oneonta. For vendor information or other questions, contact the Oneonta History Center at (607) 432-0960 or email info@OneontaHistory.org.
Friday May 8 - Friday May 15
Eleven GOHS members and friends have already registered for this trip with Collette Tours to Arizona and Utah's Canyon Country - Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Kaibob, Lake Powell, & more! Brochures and reservation forms are available at the History Center, as long as space is available. Contact Bill or Marge Pietraface at 432-1385 if you have questions about the trip, which is a fund raiser for GOHS.
Friday November 20
Mark your calendars for GOHS' 14th annual Benefit Auction, with auctioneer Kevin Herrick, at the Quality Inn on Route 23.
"Oneonta Collects History" on display during 2020
The History Center introduces “Oneonta Collects History” in February 2020. Each month of the year will feature the personal collections of one or more local collectors. If you have a collection that you would like to display at the History Center during the coming year, contact the History Center at 432-0960 or info@OneontaHistory.org.
History Day 2020
GOHS would like to see Oneonta students participate in New York History Day 2020. This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers”. A list of possible topics with a local history focus has been sent to history teachers at the Oneonta Middle School and Oneonta High School. The GOHS collections will be available to students researching Oneonta or other local topics. Also, GOHS will offer scholarships to students who are pursuing History Day projects that concern Oneonta history. The scholarships will support History Day application fees and travel expenses for students who are eligible for the regional or national competition. For more information, contact the the History Center at 432-0960 or info@OneontaHistory.org.
Oneonta Theatre Update
The Friends of the Oneonta Theatre (FOTOT) has expanded its Board of Directors and elected new officers. Over the past several months, Elaine Bresee, Bob Brzozowski, Elizabeth Dunn, David Hutchison, Jim Maloney, Kathy Meeker, and Ellen Pope have been added to the Board. At a meeting at the History Center on January 17, 2020, elections of officers were held at which Elaine Bresee was named president, Elizabeth Dunn secretary, and Bob Brzozowski treasurer.
GOHS is committed to doing what it can to save the historic Oneonta Theatre (1897) as an historic structure on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and as a performance venue. To that end, GOHS was the lead organization, in collaboration with the Friends of the Oneonta Theatre (FOTOT), in applying for technical assistance funds from the city of Oneonta's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The successful grant application funded a feasibility study and business plan for the theater to reopen as a performance venue. Webb Management Services of NYC was chosen to conduct the study. Five per cent of local funding, required by the terms of the grant, were provided by FOTOT.
The final report of Webb Management Services (WMS) of NYC was completed in February 2019.
For more information on Oneonta's Downtown Revitalization Initiative in general and other aspects of the feasibility study secured by GOHS and FOTOT in particular, click here.
FOTOT was formed in 2008 as a 501(c)3 non-profit to help support the privately-owned Oneonta Theatre. After a period of dormancy, the organization became active again after the theater was closed on January 1, 2018, and put up for sale. Site control of the theater is the priority of newly reorganized FOTOT for 2020. A capital campaign for site control and restoration of the theater will begin soon.
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 2017-2018
Click on the link to read the GOHS Highlights of 2017-2018.
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
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!
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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