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The Times
  • Parker unveils new painting

  • Local folk artist Jim Parker unveiled his latest painting Thursday afternoon at the Woolner Family Eyecare office in Ilion.

    When Dr. Tim Woolner, a specialist in pediatric optometry, saw a display of Parker’s paintings at Dunkin’ Donuts, he knew Parker was the artist he wanted to tackle a project he had in mind.

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  • Local folk artist Jim Parker unveiled his latest painting Thursday afternoon at the Woolner Family Eyecare office in Ilion.
    When Dr. Tim Woolner, a specialist in pediatric optometry, saw a display of Parker’s paintings at Dunkin’ Donuts, he knew Parker was the artist he wanted to tackle a project he had in mind.
    Woolner, a specialist in pediatric optometry, had bought the practice at 23 Central Plaza, Ilion, in February and he and his wife, Caren, wanted a painting that would depict how the area where the office is located looked around the turn of the 20th century.
    “We were shopping at the Ilion Farmers’ Market one day and were talking to Jim,” Woolner recalled. “I mentioned we wanted to find this artist and he said, ‘You’re talking to him.’”
    “We’re new to the area and we knew there was a wealth of history here,” added Caren Woolner.
    The optometry practice has been in the area for many years, Dr. Woolner said. He noted at one time, glasses were made by jewelers and purchased at jewelry shops.
    Among the early owners of Woolner’s practice were Dr. Stone and Dr. Luke. A female doctor had the practice during a period in the 1920s and 1930s. Woolner said a patient brought in a clipping about the practice from the early 20th century.
    The Woolners commissioned Parker to do the painting, which will hang in the office waiting room.
    Parker said the new painting depicts the area of Main, Otsego, Union and First streets, with their commercial and social activities during the period of 1870-1906. Woolner’s office stands on what was then Main Street in Ilion.
    The names that appear on the store fronts in the painting were ones people at that time would have seen except one — the name Woolner appears above one door.
    “The electric trolley was now in service from Utica to Little Falls,” according to Parker’s description of the painting. “The trains had been well developed, but coaches and buggies were still needed to bring passengers to and from the Osgood Hotel on the corner of Otsego Street and Main.
    “This was a temperance hotel where no ‘spirits’ were allowed,” he added. “The Remingtons had built it to be certain their arriving inventors and foreign dignitaries would have a ‘proper’ place to stay.”
    He pointed out the painting also depicts the special Osgood Hotel coach, which was shaped like a pumpkin and painted yellow.
    The Remingtons had expanded their plant during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, having supplied arms and ammunition for both, according to Parker.
    He said Otsego Street was privately owned and a wooden plank road connected Ilion with Cedarville. Toll booths and watering troughs were located all through the Ilion Gorge.
    Page 2 of 2 - The original Erie Canal, with its new lift bridge, would have been located behind the buildings in the foreground, Parker said.
    This is the second time Parker has painted Ilion’s downtown area. He painted Ilion and the Erie Canal — 1852 for Ilion’s 150th anniversary in 2002. That painting shows Ilion as it appeared prior to the Civil War, depicting Main Street and the original Erie Canal from Otsego Street west to Steele Creek. It also shows an original canal bridge and part of Railroad Street, which is now called Central Avenue. An insert shows the original Ilion railroad station, made with two abutting railroad box cars.
    The intersection of Otsego and Main streets in this painting shows the original Osgood Hotel with its third story added. Businesses on both sides of the canal served the “canal trade” at a time when more than 100 canal boats and teams passed through the village during a 24-hour period.
    “At the time, the Remington Arms was much smaller with its yellow armory building illustrated,” according to Parker’s description. “Remington’s son, Samuel, was running a broom business on the towpath. He grew the broom corn in North Ilion.”
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