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September 14, 2013

'Picturesque Oneonta' filmed 100 years ago

Even though we’re in an age when everyone captures images or video on their phones or tablets and uploads them to places such as YouTube, there’s still something exciting about seeing your hometown where potentially millions can also view it. The same might be said about filming portions of a motion picture in Oneonta last week, “The Automatic Hate.”

Oneontans were probably feeling that same sort of excitement 100 years ago when a film company came to the city and proposed filming two reels of motion pictures, a medium still pretty much in its infancy.

Elmer Dwiggins, president of the Civic Film Co., had approached the Oneonta Chamber of Commerce in the summer months of 1913 about making such a film, not only as a bit of novelty, but also to promote Oneonta as a good place in which to live and start a business.

The Chamber hired the company, as several local businesses paid subscriptions to bring the filmmaker to Oneonta. Edwin W. Elmore was the Chamber president at the time as well as the owner of the Elmore Milling Co., once found at the corner of Main Street and Neahwa Place. The feeling was that a film could show potential business owners what Oneonta had to offer.

“Moving pictures are also extensively used in schools and colleges as the easiest and surest method of teaching many subjects,” Elmore said in The Oneonta Star of Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1913.

Elmore’s mill had burned to the ground in May that year, and he knew that keeping Oneonta competitive in the business world was becoming increasingly important.

“Immediately after the fire,” Elmore said, “I was greatly impressed by the active competition for factories and plants by hosts of other cities who seem to be constantly on the lookout for reasons for removal. Our ruins had hardly ceased smoking before we began to receive hundreds of letters from secretaries of boards of trade of other cities urging reasons for our removal. Cities which had never heard of us before seemed to know about the fire and sent batches and bales of reasons why we should not rebuild here but move elsewhere.”

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