Backtracking: In Our Times: Business changes, airport and area master plan were newsmakers in 1964

Mark SimonsonSeen in 2006, this is a side view of the main building at Emmons Farms Apartments and another residential building, left, which opened to residents in October 1964.

A local bank merged with a larger out-of-town bank, an area landmark property took on a new purpose, the question of a new airport was finally answered and a future plan for Oneonta was presented.

These were all part of our area’s business beat in October 1964.


“The Citizens National Bank and Trust Company, in operation in Oneonta for the past 57 years, will merge with the National Commercial Bank and Trust Company,” Oneonta Star readers learned on Oct. 1.

“The U.S. Comptroller of Currency in Washington, D.C. approved the merger yesterday, Rutson Henderson, president of the Oneonta bank reported.” Citizens Bank was then found at the corner of Main and Dietz streets, in the 189 Main St. block.

The merger had been approved by stockholders of both banks in August. National Commercial Bank was based in Albany and had 35 branch offices in northeastern New York at the time. It eventually merged with Key Bank.


On Oct. 2, Star readers found a full-page advertisement presenting the new Emmons Farms Apartments. Having served as a chicken farm for most of the early 20th century, the property was converted to new living quarters for area residents.

“Modern gracious living in a spacious countryside setting,” the ad copy began. “Sheltered among towering sugar maples lies Emmons Farms Apartments. The character of an original exterior with many windows and fascinating details are generally preserved. The old porch roof has been removed to give more light in the apartments and dramatize the ornamental stone terrace. The main entrance has been moved to the side away from the highway to give a sense of privacy. The interior of the building has been extensively renovated.” In years to come some of the outer buildings were also converted into apartments.


“Oneonta officials were jubilant last night over news from Washington that the Federal Aviation Agency has allocated $87,500 to pay one half the costs of an Oneonta Municipal Airport,” The Star reported on Oct. 16.

Mayor Albert S. Nader said, “This is wonderful news. I am very pleased. I feel this is another progressive step forward for Oneonta and the area. It is something for which we have been waiting for a very long time.”

Ever since the late 1950s, the city had looked to partner with Otsego County to build a new airport, but opposition from outlying towns put any plans on hold. Oneonta decided to act alone in the project.

“Mr. Nader said the city will ‘probably’ have to float a bond issue for the other $87,500 providing that assistance in the construction of the airport is not forthcoming from Otsego County or one of the three adjoining towns.”

Oneonta was given a three-year deadline to build the airport. The airport was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1966.


“Much of the Town of Oneonta in years to come will be made up of small residential communities grouped around trading centers scattered throughout the township,” according to The Star of Oct. 1.

“That was the picture reviewed Wednesday night for the Town Planning Board as professional John C. Burdis, his principal planner Peter Grigas, and Robert Hanson of the State Dept. of Commerce explained some principal reasons why and how zoning is important as one of the first steps in inaugurating a Master Plan.

“The centers that Mr. Burdis envisions to grow as part of the zoning regulations begin with the one such area now firmly established, West Oneonta, and will be located in such areas as Blend Hill; Gifford Hill, Public Hill-Marble Hill and the Hemlock Road,” and many other areas, including Southside.

Mr. Burdis was also active in the city’s future, as on Oct. 2 The Star reported that Burdis “turned over to the Capital Budget and Planning Commission last night, a 49-page study of proposed zoning regulations.

“Mr. Burdis pointed out that this was only one phase in a more comprehensive report still to come.

“Under the proposal, all land and buildings will be regulated as to use, occupancy, location, construction and alteration.

“Object of the proposals … is to ‘protect and promote public health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience, economy, urban esthetics and the general welfare’ of residents.”

Plans for urban renewal in the city of Oneonta were set to begin in the next two years. 

This weekend: Cooperstown organized an athletic association in 1919.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Tuesday columns address local history 1950 and later.  If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

Ask Mark... 

Have you ever had a question about a history-making event or a prominent person in our area and didn't know where to find the answer? Well, we've got an expert who might be able to help you. Historian Mark Simonson has spent many years chronicling major local happenings, and he's ready and willing to dive into The Daily Star archives for answers, which will appear in this newspaper and online at

Write to him at "Ask Mark," The Daily Star, 102 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or email him at

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