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Columns

February 1, 2014

Oneonta businesses expanded, bonded in February 1904

While some of Oneonta’s businesses were changing hands or expanding, some of them paused to remember one leader who helped make the village’s overall prosperity possible. Other business people who had previously worked in a bit of vacuum saw the benefits of working together for a better business climate. It was part of Oneonta’s “Business Beat” of February 1904, as read in The Oneonta Star.

Readers found out on Thursday, Feb. 4, “Stevens & Baker is the name of a new firm that this morning succeeds the business of Stevens & Hills, T.W. Stevens, the senior member of the old firm, and Fred M. Baker, purchasing the interest of Charles E. Hills, and forming a co-partnership under the firm name of Stevens & Baker.” This store was found at 151-153 Main St. T. Waldo Stevens was the grandfather of John Stevens, the late owner of Stevens Hardware in downtown Oneonta, which closed in 2012 on this same site. T. Waldo Stevens went into business on his own in 1915.

“J.O. & G.N. Rowe bought yesterday of Alva Seybolt esq. a strip of land, 10x219 feet, west of and adjoining their warehouse property at No. 20 Market street,” it was reported on Feb. 6. “The purchase of this piece of land is the preliminary step to the erection of an additional warehouse, to be located between the office building and the warehouse, which stands to the rear, along side the D. & H. tracks.” It was a wholesale grocery business, and the building is known today as the General Clinton Apartments. The old sign of the Rowe business is still faintly visible on the upper Market Street frontage.

•••

This and other prosperity of Oneonta in preceding decades probably couldn’t have happened without one leading Oneonta citizen, Harvey Baker. The area was saddened to learn on Tuesday, Feb. 9, that Baker had passed away peacefully the day before. Baker is considered to be the major force in promoting and bringing a railroad from Albany to Binghamton, the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad, passing through Oneonta. It later became the Delaware & Hudson Railway.

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