News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
DAILY FEATURES >
 CROSSWORD  
 HOROSCOPES  
 CARTOONS  
 DEAR ABBY  
 EMPLOYMENT  
 DINING & ENTERTAINMENT  
 REAL ESTATE  
 AUTOMOTIVE  
 REMEMBRANCE  
 GOODS & SERVICES

greater oneonta historical society

Treasures Abound At GOHS Auction

Treasures Abound

At 13th GOHS Auction

Hand-sewn quilts, sterling silver tea sets, maps, furniture and more were all up on the auction block at the 13th annual GOHS Auction held at the Quality Inn Friday evening. Above, Marcella Drago, left, and daughter-in-law Kathy Drago look over a Bible from 1847 that was part of the silent auction. At right, Grace Smith and Claire Smith show off some Hitchcock chairs to the crowd after the main auction got under way. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

 

Philo Vance Film Series Concludes With Lecture From Mystery Novelist

LIBBY CUDMORE SHARES INSIGHTS

Mystery-Writing Editor

Places ‘Oneonta-Born’

Philo Vance In Context

Oneonta mystery writer Libby Cudmore assesses Philo Vance’s place in the golden age of detective fiction at this evening’s third installment of the Philo Vance Film Series at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society.  The talk preceded a screening of “The Dragon Murder Case,” based on one of the lesser beloved of S.S. Van Dine’s 12 novels featuring the detective that Van Dine (aka Willard Huntington Wright) created while living in his aunts’ home on River Street. At  left are GOHS Executive Director Bob Brzozowski and Father Ken Hunter, St. James Episcopal pastor and a mystery buff, who organized the film series.  Cudmore is also managing editor of Hometown Oneonta, The Freeman’s Journal and AllOTSEGO.com.  Her “The Big Rewind” was published by William Morrow in 2016. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2019
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19

Prepare For The Holidays

14-19eventspage

PRE-CHRISTMAS SALE – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Find gently used holiday decorations including lights, undecorated wreaths, ornaments, tableware, more. Also enjoy goodies at bake sale. Proceeds benefit mission programs of United Methodist Women. Cooperstown United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9515 or visit www.cooperstownumc.org

1st Detective ‘Talkie’ Begins Philo Film Series

1st Detective ‘Talkie’

Begins Philo Film Series

Fr. Kenneth Hunter welcomes viewers to the opening night of the Philo Vance film series at GOHS with a showing of “The Green Murder Case” from 1921. The film features William Powell (of ‘The Thin Man’ fame) during a turning point in his career, as Philo Vance. The film was also the first detective movie to feature audio dialogue as pictures moved away from the silent film era. Paul Jensen, right, a retired professor, was on hand to give a little background on Powell’s career before the start of the film. After reading an article in a Hometown Oneonta article about the local house owned by S.S. Van Dine, the creator of Philo Vance, Fr. Hunter felt inspired to create the film series to introduce more locals to this famous local author. The next film will be Tuesday, Oct 22, followed by third Oct 29.(Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Volunteers Bruce, Wright & Smith Honored For Service To GOHS

GOHS Honors President Corinne Smith,

Volunteers Deb Bruce, Wayne Wright

The Greater Oneonta Historical Society honored three of its own this evening during the Annual Meeting & Awards Reception. Above, Executive Director Bob Brzozowski stands with honorees Corinne Smith, outgoing president, right, and Deb Bruce, who were awarded Eduard Hofbauer Outstanding Service Awards, and Wayne Wright, recipient of the Albert E. Morris Award for  contributions to local history. Smith has served two terms as president of the Board of Trustees, overseeing the near-completion of the Oneonta History Center in the former Laskaris store.  Bruce most recently served as the database coordinator, in addition to being a trustee, board member and on the Collections Committee over 15 years . Wright, a former trustee, has served as GOHS librarian,  compiled a topical index of Ed Moore’s volumes of “In Old Oneonta,” and worked with the  Cooperstown Graduate Program students as they learned to become museum professionals. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Historians Say Literary Mecca Out Of Danger
Philo Vance Home Safe For Now

Historians Say Literary

Mecca Out Of Danger

By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The novel couldn’t have been written in the cupola: There’s only 3 feet of headroom. (Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA & The Freeman’s Journal)

The River Street birthplace of detective Philo Vance may still be saved.

On Monday, June 10, Bob Brzozowski, Greater Oneonta Historical Society executive director, went through the 31 River St. home where William Huntington Wright – aka S.S. Van Dyne – wrote parts of his debut novel, “A Man of Promise.” Later, while recovering from a cocaine addiction, is believed to have written his first detective novel, “The Benson Murder Case,” a best-seller and the first of a dozen novels featuring dandy detective Philo Vance.

The house, owned by his maiden aunts Bertha and Julia Wright, was sold to the Salvation Army earlier this spring for $90,000. The original intent was to demolish it for a parking lot and, eventually, a new building for expanded programming, including the food pantry.

But when word of the home’s literary history got to Brzozowski, he began researching ways to save it. He arranged a tour with the Salvation Army, who took him around the grounds and through the house.
“Right away, we noticed that the entire house was dry, even though the weekend had been very rainy,” said Brzozowski. “Though obviously, there are other issues.”

At some point, the residence was chopped into apartments, but strangely. “There are two kitchens right beside each other,” said Brzozowski. “There’s one living space on the first floor and two on the second.”

Though no furniture was left, Brzozowski did find some “knick-knacks,” including a 1966 newspaper, a WWII-era canvas pouch in a tin box in the basement and a couple of “really interesting lamps.”
“There could have been stuff there that belonged to the Wright family, but it would be hard to detect,” he said.

But perhaps the biggest revelation of all is that the cupola, where legend had it that Wright did all of his writing, wasn’t big enough to accommodate the writer – or anyone.

“It’s maybe three feet from floor to ceiling,” he said. “It’s not like a room. He couldn’t even sit in here.”

There is, however, a garret on the second floor south side of the house. “I could imagine a writer working in there.”

Emphemera Abounds, And Much More

Emphemera Abounds, And Much More

Wife Barbara tends their booth while Will Monie of Willis Monie Books, Cooperstown, left, takes a break to examine GOHS Executive Director
Bob Brzozowski’s offerings during the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s 15th annual Postcard, Book & Ephemera Show & Sale Saturday, April 13,
at Elm Park Methodist Church in Oneonta. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103