Bob Brzozowski, Executive Director of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society (GOHS) has retired. Bob has been associated with the GOHS since 2003 when he joined the Board of Trustees of the organization. Bob succeeded Sally Mullen as President of the Board in 2003. In 2009, Bob left the Board and was appointed Executive Director of the Historical Society.
As Bob puts it, “when I came on board as President, the Oneonta History Center located at 183 Main Street in downtown Oneonta was a construction site. Much had to be done to the building. We did have a few off-site programs such as walking tours of the City, but there were no exhibits. The collections of the Historical Society, which had started to expand, were housed at Hartwick College and in some cases in members’ homes.”
With Bob as Board President, the History Center opened in June 2005. The first floor was completed housing the Oneonta History Wall, a permanent exhibit of GOHS, as well as space for temporary exhibits, educational programs and a gift shop. Today the GOHS prepares and hosts three to four major exhibits a year on the first floor space as well as several smaller displays. Educational programs have expanded with at least one program a month during the year. As Executive Director, Bob oversaw the installation of an elevator to increase accessibility as well as the complete renovation of the History Center’s second floor which now houses the permanent collections of important artifacts related to Oneonta and the surrounding area. Soon, the Sally Mullen Memorial Suite will be opened on the second floor as a community resource center for local history. The third phase of the renovation is the third floor and that will need to be completed by Bob’s successor. However, Bob has insured that the project will be completed by securing a substantial New York State legislative grant, thanks to then-Senator Jim Seward, to restore the third floor as well as the exterior brick and tile work. Included in the third floor work will be the restoration of the original ballroom.
When asked about his biggest challenges during his time at the GOHS, he responds that “securing the funds to restore the building so it is a substantial contribution to downtown, including bringing back the historic Laskaris façade and increasing the weight bearing capacity of the second floor, while safeguarding the artifacts and archives in our collections. Those were big challenges, but working with a team of dedicated volunteers was a rewarding experience.”
Among his many accomplishments, Bob states what he enjoyed most while leading the GOHS was the great privilege and pleasure of meeting so many citizens from the area who share his love of history in general and local history in particular. Having the opportunity to watch the GOHS grow and contribute to the cultural and economic development of Oneonta has been a true honor.
The Board of Trustees of the GOHS has recently decided to name the Oneonta History Wall permanent exhibit the Brzozowski Oneonta History Wall in Bob’s honor. Bob and his wife, Jane Bachman, plan to remain in Oneonta and stay involved in local history and historic preservation. A community reception for Bob will be held at the Oneonta History Center when it is safe to do so.