A Review of OHA by Blog Talk Radio

Yesterday, we noticed a woman walking around our museum and talking into her cell phone. Turns out, she was reviewing our exhibits for BlogTalkRadio.com’s A Theory of Parenting podcast. This podcast series, “..uses our show to promote Teachers, Parents, Teens, Authors, and Prominent People… [and] discuss teen topics and do reviews.”

See what they had to say about OHA

Throwback Thursday: 1925

177 W. Genesee St. hump, looking east from W.S. W. Fayette St. between Hamilton and West Genesee, September 14, 1925

The 20th century is full of momentous events. Here are a few notable ones from 1925:

  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is published
  • Margaret Thatcher, the U.K’s Prime Minister from 1979-1990, is born.
  • Benito Mussolini dissolves the Italian parliament and becomes dictator.
  • World’s Fair opens in Chicago
  • John Thomas Scopes found guilty of teaching evolution in a Tennessee HS after the famous “Scopes – Monkey” Trial.

Checking in to the Hotel Syracuse


JACKIE COOGAN REGISTERS: Syracuse’s famous child movie star was the first to place his name on the records of the Hotel Syracuse. With him are, from left, Joseph Griffin, president of the Citizens Hotel Corp.; Roy Brainard, managing director of the Hotel Syracuse; and Lt. Gov. George Lunn. (OHA)

90 Years Ago: In September of 1924, the Hotel Syracuse opened to the public. Designed by George B. Post and Sons and built at a cost of more than six million dollars, the building had everything that the nation’s leading hotel architects of the period could incorporate.

Some of the features included a coffee shop, drug store, beauty salon, barber shop, retail stores, over 600 guest rooms and a15845219-small grand ballroom. From the outside the three towers, connected at the base, resembled classical columns. The Rainbow Lounge, named for the tubular lighting within the glass-block entrance, was added in 1937 following Prohibition. The Persian Terrace became one of the most elegant meeting and dining rooms.

Child movie star and Syracuse native Jackie Coogan was the first registered guest at the hotel. Numerous celebrities have visited the Hotel Syracuse over the decades including Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, aviator Charles Lindbergh, entertainers Bob Hope, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and John Lennon with Yoko Ono.

–Daniel Connors of the Onondaga Historical Association

Inside the OHA Collection:

This series hopes to give our readers a glimpse of what the Onondaga Historical Association has in its collection. From photographs of Syracuse in the 19th Century to business paraphernalia and everything in between, our collection helps us tell the unique history of Onondaga County.

Today’s objects are new acquisitions from Jean’s Beans. The top photo is the very first potato chip produced by Jeans Beans during the 1940s. The following photo is a painting by Watercolor specialist and Syracuse University professor Ruth Lee of Jean’s Beans on East Fayette Street in the 1940s.


The following is courtesy of Jean’s Beans in Watertown, New York, the last still in business. 

“In the early 20th century, Jean’s Beans was started by a French chef named Jean, who peddled his famous baked beans on the streets of Syracuse, NY.

From these humble beginnings, Frank Childs and J. Richard Childs created Jean’s Beans Co. and Jean’s Foods. At one time, J.

IMG_4314Richard owned the Syracuse retail store and the potato chip plant. He also started several Jean’s Beans stores for promising employees like Neil Fuller, Sr., the originator of the Watertown and Elmira Jean’s Beans. Neil Fuller also opened stores in Carthage and Ogdensburg.”Richard owned the Syracuse retail store and the potato chip plant. He also started several Jean’s Beans stores for promising employees like Neil Fuller, Sr., the originator of the Watertown and Elmira Jean’s Beans. Neil Fuller also opened stores in Carthage and Ogdensburg.”

Syracuse Native Constructs Homemade “Bi-Plane” in 1911

eckers-flying-boat-100dpijpg-674b9d9048a48e26In 1911, a Syracuse native, Herman Ecker, took off from Onondaga Lake in his homemade flying boat. Ecker, who was our city’s first aviator, built his “bi-plane” in the automobile shop run by former Mayor Charles Hanna. The engine was a modified boat motor and had a top speed of 65 mph, which was very fast for that era.

Ecker constructed his wood and metal plane with common materials, including Irish linen covered wings that in some places was spliced together with wallpaper paste, carpet tacks and varnish. The varnish became necessary because the wallpaper paste dissolved when it rained. The plane was controlled through the use of wires connected to the wings. These wires were then attached to the pilot’s shoulder yoke. The gas tank was located well opposite of the fire-spitting 6-cylinder engine. The tank held enough gas to keep the plane aloft 20 to 30 minutes. His ‘seatbelt’ was a piece of clothesline secured around his shoulders. A passenger seat, without a seatbelt, was reserved for brave customers who paid a fee for the privilege of a ride.

Since there were no “how-to” manuals in existence at the time, Ecker had to improvise the design and construction. The fact that it never crashed was an impressive feat for such an early flying machine, since of the 29 original pilots flying in 1910, only 9 lived in 1912 to tell their tales.

Herman flew the plane for three years and then placed it in storage, where it was forgotten. It was eventually found in 1958 in the attic of an Erie Blvd. TV sales and repair shop. The plane was donated to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in 1961 where it can be seen today, fully restored, in the Early Flight Gallery. Sadly, Herman died in 1969 before the restoration was completed.

–Karen Y. Cooney, OHA’s Support Services Administrator

Opening reception for ‘It’s In Our Very Name: The Italian Heritage of Syracuse’

festival-of-madonna-of-the-rosary-delhi-st-1930s-100dpijpg-18edd6de77e9ddcfJust in time for the Syracuse Italian Festival, Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) is opening a new temporary exhibit titled, It’s in Our Very Name: The Italian Heritage of Syracuse, on Friday September 12th, 2014.

Tonight, there is an opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 at OHA that is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

As a crossroads for many immigrants from around the world, Syracuse became the home for Italians who were looking to build a better life. In turn, these immigrants changed Syracuse both physically, by helping with different architectural and infrastructure projects, and culturally, by importing new foods and customs to our community.

The exhibit will focus on the history and influence of Italian culture on our community beginning with the name given to this village in 1825, which was adopted when John Wilkinson was inspired by a poem about Siracusa, Sicily. By the 1880’s, an increasing number of Italian immigrants began to arrive to take advantage of the thriving Syracuse economy and other opportunities that were available. Some artifacts that will be highlighted include a wine press, a set of wooden bocce balls, and purses made at the Resnick purse factory. The exhibit will also show how paintings influenced one of Syracuse’s own artistic institutions.

This exhibit is sponsored by M&T Bank.

Today in History: Labor Day Storm, 1998

1998 Labor Day Storm-Day 3-St. Lucys

1998 Labor Day Storm-Day 3-Saint Lucys

16 Years Ago: Shortly after 1 am on the morning of Labor Day 1998, a line of fierce thunderstorms moved into the area, striking Central New York from the west with wind gusts of up to 115mph. The storm devastated the community, damaging hundreds of buildings and tens of thousands of trees. More than 200,000 people lost power, which was not restored to some until the following week. New York State declared the community a disaster area and federal aid was sought.

Hundreds of work crews, including utility squads and National Guard Troops, worked around clock to overcome mounting problems. Traffic lights were out, the State Fair was closed, bus service was cancelled, and many schools were closed for more than a week. Niagara Mohawk incurred millions of dollars in costs to restore power. Scenic neighborhoods, parks, golf courses, arboretums, Burnet Park Zoo, and historic Oakwood cemetery suffered severe tree losses. The storm caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to the area. However, the city was resilient.  By Friday most damaged businesses had reopened at least on a limited basis.