Flashback: The Early Years: Deal Made on St. Patrick’s Day 1927: Hartwick College Came to Oneonta | Columns
It was a sealant that would dramatically change life around Oneonta.
The town became more of a college town 95 years ago, as The Oneonta Star reported on March 18, 1927: In session in the Elks’ lodge room yesterday afternoon shortly after 3 p.m., when, by a unanimous vote, the synod voted to accept the proposal submitted by Oneonta to the trustees of Hartwick Seminary a week before, who then tentatively approved the idea and voted to recommend it to the synod for favorable action. The Elks Club was later found at 99 Main St.
“Definite probability” quickly became a reality. Oneonta, as a city, had agreements to keep in order for the new college to move here. Donations of land and money were requirements, and they were all kept by local citizens, as Hartwick opened here in 1928.
March 17, 1927 was an interesting day to walk around the city, to see what was happening with the conclusion of the current case.
The Star continued: “Delegates began arriving the evening before, but the greatest number came by morning train from Albany, when the motor cars were at D. & H. station to meet them. .” The station was where the Stella Luna Ristorante operated recently, on Market Street, at the time part of Prospect Street.
“They were taken immediately to the Elks clubhouse and there assigned to places of entertainment for the night. Some from the Mohawk Valley came by automobile and shortly after 11 a.m. when the first session was held, virtually all had been taken to their places of entertainment and returned to the Elks’ house for the opening session.
Many speakers were heard and, “Virtually all speakers referred to the fact that the problem of developing a first-class educational institution with Hartwick Seminary as its nucleus had troubled the Synod for nearly a century without nothing accomplished, and now that a substantial and tangible offer of assistance which should mean the consummation of the Synod’s hopes has arrived, the proposal must by all means be accepted.
In all, there were 200 Synod delegates in the club room after a lunch break. The vote was unanimous on the deal and the celebrations quickly began.
“Immediately after the end of the afternoon session, visitors were picked up in about 50 cars provided by local friends of the project and taken for a spin around the city to give them a view of possible sites and on the main buildings and streets of the town, after which they were taken to Hartwick Seminary, where they were given a standing ovation by the students, the cheers being split between “Hartwick Sem”, Hartwick College and Oneonta, there was apparently a warm endorsement of the synod’s action.
Local traders were no doubt pleased, as their advertisements in The Star the following day also reflected the mood.
The day was not yet over, as The Star continued, “Hartwick’s day in Oneonta, which rose so auspiciously yesterday morning, and in the afternoon was so fulfilled in the action of the Synod of New York… fittingly came for a final closing night with the free dinner served in the hall of the Elks pavilion.There were about 250 guests and citizens at the dinner, and attendance at the mass meeting was estimated at 800. The evening program was a worthy highlight of the events of a busy day, and all who attended left with more hope and confidence in Greater Hartwick than ever before, if that were possible.
The celebrations over, now came the “work”. Oneonta as a community pledged to raise $200,000 for the college. Within days, donations of $10,000 each had come from state Supreme Court Justice Abraham L. Kellogg and local department store owner Frank H. Bresee. The goal was reached in 16 days.
Wednesday: The Life and Times of Oneonta in March 1977.
Oneonta Town Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice a week. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Wednesday columns deal with local history from 1950 and later. If you have any comments or ideas for the column, write to him at The Daily Star or email him at [email protected] His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns are available at www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/.
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Write to him at “Ask Mark”, The Daily Star, 102 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or email him at [email protected] with “Daily Star: Ask Mark” in the subject.