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.

Tuesday November 29

November 29 is Giving Tuesday and NY Gives Day, a day to give back to the community by supporting non-profits. GOHS is participating and the History Center will be open from 12 noon to 4 PM, with refreshments, and the opportunity for those without computer access to donate.


Thursday December 1

From 5:00 to 8:00 PM, Dale and Lynn Price will be selling their vintage button rings, bracelets, pins, and other jewelry.

Friday December 9

4 PM deadline for submission of essays from middle school and high school aged students for the Sally Mullen Local History Awards. The essay topic is "The Importance & Value of Aviation to Oneonta & the Surrounding Communities in Otsego County". See the GOHS News article below for more information.

Friday December 9 through Sunday December 11

Items from the former Yager Museum shop will be offered for sale.

Friday December 16 through Sunday December 18

A selection of art pottery and other unique gifts will be featured.

Saturday January 14

Last day of the holiday displays.

Sunday January 22

Public forum at 1 PM on how the city's $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant can take advantage of the city's history to contribute to economic development. If you have ideas but cannot attend, you are welcome to submit a written statement to info@OneontaHistory.org.

Friday January 27

“Oneonta’s Trolley Line: The Southern New York Railway” will open at the History Center. The exhibition will cover the beginnings of the local trolley system at the turn of the 19th century through its long decline and its final demise in 1969.

Sunday January 29

A reception will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Free and open to the public. Refreshments.

Saturday February 18

Rail historian Jim Loudon will speak on "The Otsego Trolley Line" at 2 PM. Free and open to the public.

Saturday April 22

Last day of "Oneonta's Trolley Line: The Southern New York Railway".

Tuesday May 23

SAVE THE DATE! GOHS Bus Trip to Saratoga!




GOHS News


New Self-guided Walking Tour of Main Street

Walking Tour button
Click the button for more info!


GOHS Highlights of 2015-2016

Click on the link to read the GOHS Highlights of 2015-2016.


Sally Mullen Local History Awards in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Oneonta Municipal Airport

The Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s annual Sally Mullen Local History Awards for 2016-2017 celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oneonta Municipal Airport. The local history awards date to 2004 to honor the memory of Sally Mullen (1935-2004). Sally Mullen, a past president of GOHS, was a driving force behind the acquisition of the future Oneonta History Center at 183 Main Street and of placing the Downtown Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The awards recognize her dedication both to local history and to young people and their natural curiosity and creativity.

Airport Essay Contest

The essay topic is “The Importance and Value of Aviation to Oneonta and Surrounding Communities in Otsego County.”

Two sets of prizes will be offered. The two winning essays from a middle school-aged and a high school-aged student will receive $75; second place will receive $50; and third place $25. Essays will be judged on content, research, appropriate citations, spelling, grammar, and presentation.

Open to all middle and high school aged students in Otsego County. The essay should be approximately 750 words and cover Oneonta’s history of aviation and your thoughts on the present and future prospects for commercial and general aviation for the growth for Oneonta and the surrounding communities. An image or images relevant to the narrative should be included. Essay should be sent via email as a word document or pdf to info@oneontahistory.org. Deadline for submission is 4 PM, Friday December 9. For more information or questions contact GOHS education committee chair Larry Guzy at guzylt@gmail.com.

Airport Bed Sheet Collage or Painting

  • First place: Junior Girl Scout Troop #30043 of Valleyview Elementary School, Oneonta
  • Second Place: Cub Scout Pack 10, Laurens

Airplane Flight Competition

Please note that the Airplane Rubber Band Powered Flight Competition has been postponed to a later date.

Exhibit News

Visit the History Center between Friday November 18 and Saturday January 14 to see its holiday displays -- two model train layouts; a dollhouse, furnished and decorated for the holidays; a Christmas tree; a display of vintage holiday cards; a special display of the holidays at Bresee's Oneonta Department Store; as well as a life-size Santa from Bresee's.


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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