Backtracking: The Early Years: Trio of local organizations looked to expand in 1949

Mark Simonson

Shown in 2008, the tallest structure of brick, in back of the two stone buildings on Atwell Road at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, was a new $1.2 million addition announced in November 1949.

If you’ve ever moved before, say from an apartment to a new home, you know how much planning there is for the move and expansion.

Three local organizations were going through a similar move or expansion in November 1949.


Overlooking downtown, on the top floor of the Oneonta Hotel, its home since December 1947, it was reported on Nov. 23, “The Oneonta Star station, WDOS, will begin operations in its new quarters in the former Keyes house, West and Chestnut, shortly before the first of the year, Eugene A. Brown, general manager, announced last night.”

WDOS was moving to that corner property first, and a few months later would be joined by The Oneonta Star, also moving from Broad Street to a new print plant and newsroom around April 1950.

“The radio station will be one of the most unique in the country, Mr. Brown declared, since it will be housed in a building constructed along colonial lines. The interior will be decorated and furnished in a colonial atmosphere.

“The first floor of the building will be devoted to radio offices and a lounge for the convenience of visitors.

“The second floor is being remodeled so as to house two radio studios, a control room, a lounge, a record library and a radio news room. One of the two studios will be furnished along the lines of a home library. The other will be constructed along conventional lines.” The second studio was for WDOS-FM, which had signed on earlier in 1949.


“Plans for extensive enlargement for Bassett Hospital at an estimated cost of $1,200,000 were announced yesterday by Dr. James Bordley III, director of the hospital,” Oneonta Star readers learned on Nov. 21.

“The program calls for a one-third increase in the number of beds and more than one-third increase in the interior cubic footage. Main part of the enlargement and rearrangement program will be the construction of a new three-story west wing, 180 by 50 feet.

“Other improvements are charted so as to link all wings and buildings under one roof with a new entrance facing Atwell Road. The area now occupied by the overhead archway linking the old annex with the main structure will be completely closed in.”

“The new construction will house a large lobby and waiting area, new offices for administration, business and admitting functions, new emergency and minor surgery departments located at grade level just inside the ambulance entrance, an enlarged and re-equipped x-ray department, doctors’ offices and examining rooms, and a completely revised and modernized kitchen.

“The entire top floor will be modeled into a modern operating suite consisting of three major operating rooms for special operative procedures and an anesthesia suite with recovery rooms.”

Funding for the project came from a federal grant to cover one-third of the costs, and the remainder from the Clark and Scriven foundations.


“Principal Joseph Horton of the Otego Central School faculty explained the proposed addition to the present school building at the meeting of the Susquehanna Valley Grange at the IOOF hall Tuesday,” The Star reported on Nov. 17.

The school, the former Otego Elementary School, is soon to become the new home of the Oneonta Christian Academy, reported recently to be running out of space at its River Street facility.

“Slides, drawn by the Art teacher, showed the floor plans and the new bus room. These plans have been approved by the state, the board of education, the citizens committee composed of members from each Otego organization and, at a proposed cost of $133,000 will be put out to the public for vote.

“The need was stressed when it was pointed out that the kindergarten being housed in the Baptist Church parlors, one half of the first grade is in the school and the rest of the grade in the Masonic Hall,” at the corner of Main and River streets.

On Tuesday: Our local life and times in December 1979.

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

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

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