Backtracking: In Our Times: Cooperstown Main Street business changes made in April 1960

FileThe former J.J. Newberry’s store on Main Street in Cooperstown, seen in January 1995. Plans for this modern store’s construction were announced during April 1960.

Some changes were in store for the appearances on Main Street in Cooperstown, during April 1960.

CHANGES LOOMED FOR WOODSIDE HALL

“Former State Senator Walter Watson Stokes of Woodside Hall, Cooperstown, died early Sunday morning,” The Otsego Farmer reported on March 31. Stokes had served in the state Legislature for 20 years until his retirement in 1952.

Many had to be wondering what would become of Stokes’ landmark home at 1 Main St.

They didn’t have to wait long, as the Farmer reported on April 14, “The Episcopal Diocese of Albany will be the ultimate owner of Woodside Hall … Under terms of the will of Senator Stokes filed for probate last week … his widow, Mrs. Hanna-Lee Stokes gets use of the residence and the furnishings for two years, after which they pass on to his son, Walter Watson Stokes Jr. of Cooperstown and New York. On the latter’s death, the property goes to the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany to ‘be used as a residence or home for the Bishop or a former or retired Bishop of the Diocese.’”

This never happened. Stokes’ son sold the entire estate to Mrs. Ida Wilcox in 1965. Wilcox operated a convalescent home in Cherry Valley, and opened Woodside Hall as a nursing home on Aug. 9, 1966.

Ownership changed in 1980, and the facility was able to accommodate as many as 55 residents. Population was at 20 when it was announced in August 2006 that the adult home was sold and would not continue as such a facility, requiring the residents to relocate. The property was purchased in 2008 and refurbished for use again as an adult home as we now know it.

PLANS MADE FOR NEW J.J. NEWBERRY STORE

Otsego Farmer readers of April 14 also learned, “W. Perry Hukill, vice president of the real estate division of the J.J. Newberry Company, has announced that the construction of the firm’s new department store on Main Street in Cooperstown will begin sometime in the near future.”

Newberry’s had been a part of the Cooperstown business district sine 1931, formerly found at 100 Main St.

Newberry’s had purchased the remains of the two-unit three-story former Cooperstown Dry Cleaner block, which had been destroyed by fire in November 1958. At the time of purchase, the land had been cleared. Two other homes, the Strait and Morrison homes were ready to be demolished to provide parking in the back of the store.

The 45 Main St. frontage of the dry cleaning business had long been on the site, built in 1849 by George W. Ernest, who operated a dry goods store in one side of it until he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to be the first U.S. Internal Revenue collector for this district.

The Daily Star of Jan. 10, 1995, reported, “The Clark family has bought the J.J. Newberry Co. building…for $1.7 million but has no current plans to change the building’s use.” Newberry’s at its peak in the mid-1950s had 475 stores in its chain, and closed the last of its stores in early 2002. It was around this time that Cooperstown’s store became the Cooperstown General Store, and continued business until near the end of 2017.

McEWAN’S IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETED

With a new, modern store like Newberry’s coming along, other businesses considered a better appearance as well.

The Farmer of April 28 reported, “McEwan Hardware, located on Main Street in Cooperstown completed the building of a new store front last week, which adds greatly to the looks of the place of business.

“The building was originally built for the plumbing and hardware business,” at 83 Main St. “In 1901, William L. McEwan purchased the store from J. Warren Lamb, and in 1906 he took his brother, Paul H. McEwan in as a partner.

BETTER BUSINESS CONNECTIONS MADE THROUGH FASTER COMMUNICATION

For contacting Main Street businesses like McEwan’s or Newberry’s, they were a quick phone call away, as the Farmer reported on May 5, “One of the key phases of the program to provide Cooperstown telephone users with fast, fingertip dial service will be completed by Sunday, D.F. Parce, New York Telephone company manager, announced this week.

“Mr. Parce said that virtually all of Cooperstown’s 3,000 telephones now are equipped for dial and that the remaining visits to customers premises will be made after summer residents open their homes for the season.” Ten men had been making visits to village homes and businesses since early February.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly in The Daily Star. 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 simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/.

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