September 5 – Happy Birthday Bill Cooper

cooperWhen you put the word “architect” together with the place “Amsterdam, NY” only one name comes to mind for most long-time city residents and that’s Bill Cooper. Every time I pull my tee shot on the seventh hole at Amsterdam Muny and go searching the edges of the patch of weeds and woods that separate the left side of that fairway from the contemporary styled, self-designed former residence of Mr. Cooper, I’m reminded of his years of designing structures in this area.

Cooper was born on this date in 1922. He graduated from Lynch High School in 1940 and became a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Force during WWII. During the Normandy Invasion, he flew on the crew of a cargo plane flying resupply missions to US troops fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

After the War, like so many returning American servicemen, he took advantage of the GI Bill and went to RPI, where he got his degree in Architecture. His first job was as an assistant architect with the State of New York. He then accepted a position as staff architect with Amsterdam’s J.L. Finlay Construction Company and then in 1956, finally hung out his own shingle and opened his own design firm.

The Cooper designed Teepee Restaurant on the eastern edge of Amsterdam.
The Cooper designed Teepee Restaurant on the eastern edge of Amsterdam.

Some of his most notable work includes the Clara Bacon Elementary School and the former Amsterdam Federal Savings Bank headquarter building on Church Street (now a branch location of First Niagara Bank.) Cooper also designed the Montgomery County Infirmary, the Montgomery County Office Building in Fonda, NY, the Gloversville City Hall and Fire Station, and the Liberty Enterprises headquarter building off Route 5S. His most impressive feat, the modern and stunning A-framed former Teepee Restaurant building unfortunately now sits unused and in disrepair but it was truly Cooper’s best work on the local landscape.

Cooper died in March of 2013 at the age of 80. Cooper’s wife and three children survived him but his architectural firm is now, like this esteemed citizen, a fond and respected Amsterdam memory.

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