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.

Saturday July 2

Tracking Oneonta History: All aboard for a race through time! How well do you know the historic buildings and sites of Oneonta? On July 2, track Oneonta history with just a photo and a clue as your guide. The race to find historic locations starts at 1 PM at the Farmers’ Market (rain location: History Center), where participants can pick up their clue packet, and will end at Damaschke Field in Neahwa Park by 3 PM. Teams of 2 to 4 people may register with the Otsego County Chamber starting Monday June 13, or at the History Center on Friday June 17, 5:00 to 8:00 PM. All ages are welcome. The official rules will be available upon registration. This event is free and open to the public. Grand Prizes will be awarded to the three fastest teams to complete the hunt, with more prizes awarded in various other categories! All teams will receive participant gifts. Follow us on social media with #trackingoneontahistory. This event is run by GOHS, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Memorial Library, Otsego County Historical Association, Swart-Wilcox House, and the City of Oneonta Historian. For more information call 432-4500 or stop in at the Otsego County Chamber, 189 Main St. Suite 201, Oneonta.

Monday July 4

The Greater Oneonta Historical Society will be at the annual Hometown 4th of July in Neahwa Park again this year. GOHS will have the historic Red Caboose open for tours, and will have a information table and handouts on the various Neahwa Park monuments. GOHS' activities will be from 12 noon to 4 PM.

Friday July 8

GOHS will have its annual Strawberry Shortcake Social on this Fabulous Friday between 5 and 8 PM. Stop by for homemade shortcake, strawberries, and whipped cream!

Friday August 5

Main Street will be closed for a vintage car show, a Fabulous Friday event of Destination Oneonta. Inside the History Center, we’re planning activities for children with an automotive theme 5 to 8 PM.

Tuesday August 9

GOHS is having a walking tour of Emmons Farms, the 200-year old property across from Price Chopper Plaza. Our hosts will be Emmons descendants, who will lead a tour around the property, followed by refreshments. The tour is limited to thirty persons. Tickets are $6 ($5 for GOHS members) and will be payable at the event. Reservations are required. To reserve a spot, contact info@OneontaHistory.org or 607-432-0960.

Saturday August 20

The "From the Collections" exhibit ends.

GOHS News


New Self-guided Walking Tour of Main Street

Walking Tour button
Click the button for more info!


Sally Mullen Local History Awards

In 2016-2017 the Sally Mullen Local History awards are a collaboration between GOHS and the Oneonta Rotary in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Oneonta Municipal Airport. There are three divisions:

Essay Contest

The Sally Mullen Local History Project topic for 2016-2017 will be an essay on “The Importance and Value of Aviation to our Local Community”. The 750 to 1500 word essay should cover Oneonta's history and thoughts on its prospects for the future regarding aviation. An image or images relevant to the narrative should be included. Essays will be judged on content, research, appropriate citations, spelling & grammar, and presentation. The deadline for submissions is 4:00 PM on Wednesday September 7. The contest is open to middle school and high school students in Oneonta and Laurens. First and second place prizes of $75 and $50 will be awarded in both middle and high school categories. Winners will be announced at the 50th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday September 17. For additional information, contact info@oneontahistory.org.

Collage or Painting

This fun competition is open to elementary-age groups enrolled in Oneonta and Laurens (elementary grade classes, Scouts, YMCA, OWL, home school, etc.). GOHS and the Oneonta Rotary seek entrants to produce a collage and/or painting on a twin bed sheet with the focus on the importance of the Oneonta Airport. Deadline for submission is 4:00 PM Friday September 16 at the History Center. There will be a first place prize of $75 and a second place prize of $50. The bed sheets will be on display at the September 17 50th Anniversary Celebration when the winners will be announced. For more information, contact guzylt@gmail.com or info@oneontahistory.org.

Airplane Flight Competition

This competition is open to all elementary through high school students in Oneonta and Laurens. There will be a first place prize of $75 and a second place prize of $50, with the winners also announced on September 17. The specifications for the Penny Plane Rubber Band Powered Longest Duration Flight Competition have not yet been finalized, but will soon be available at www.OneontaHistory.org, or by contacting guzyt@gmail.com.

From the Collections exhibit

The History Center’s new exhibit, "From the Collections", features archival materials and artifacts dating from the founding of the Upper Susquehanna Historical Society (USHS) in 1939 to donations made this year. Items on display are just a sampling, of course, of what’s in the GOHS collections. Visitors will see a photo of the first USHS field trip, the USHS charter, a 1977 Hartwick College soccer championship t-shirt, and a George I. Wilber hops paperweight. From the 18th century, there’s David Scrambling’s Revolutionary War powder horn; from the 19th, Clinton Ford’s passport; and from the 20th, a wood carving by Laverne Kelley. Also part of the exhibit is Honour Harlowe's study of a 100+ year old dress in the GOHS collections. "From the Collections" will continue until Saturday August 20.

Other 2016 Exhibits and Displays

The "From the Collections" exhibit will be followed by an exhibit on Oneonta and the history of aviation. Along with the exhibit will be a display at the Oneonta Airport in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the municipal airport. And throughout 2016 there will be displays on our historic building, the oldest brick building on Main Street, in celebration of its 150th anniversary.

Main Street 150 Years poster

GOHS continues to work with the Oneonta Job Corps Academy (OJCA) and Hartwick College to recognize the history of the Homer Folks Tuberculosis Hospital (HFTH) on its former campus on West Street. Plans include a room dedicated to that history in the administration building of the former HFTH, now OJCA.

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.)

That Old Time Music!

GOHS has a CD of player piano music, 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 Fenner Foundation.

Nineteen selections were chosen for the 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, produced by independent music and video producer Keith Rodan, is available at the History Center or by mail, and sells for $12.00 plus tax.

GOHS is currently planning a second CD of player piano. This one will feature local vocalists accompanying the piano roll tunes.

The CD is available at the History Center or by mail. For more information, call 607-432-0960 or email info@oneontahistory.org.

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


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