Binghamton is filled with many traditions. The most constant of these is a tradition of ingenuity in this fertile valley that seems to be forever ripe with ideas.
There’s a colorful past filled with forward-thinkers here, perhaps none greater than the minds of George F. Johnson, co-founder of Endicott-Johnson Shoe Co., and Thomas Watson, legendary leader of IBM.
These names built a mighty Binghamton (along with the neighboring Endicott and Johnson City) over the course of the early and mid-20th century. The two legacies intertwine at what is today known as Traditions at the Glen, a historic resort that overlooks the city of Binghamton from a perch in Johnson City.
Formerly known as the IBM Homestead, it was initially built in 1918 by Endicott-Johnson Treasurer Elliot Spaulding as a posh private residence. It became a golf club in the 1920s and was purchased by IBM in 1935.
“[George F. Johnson] was someone who built a company that felt if you gave to your employees and your team, they would give back to you two-fold,” says Former Traditions General Manager Candace Jones. “Mr. Watson really patterned himself after that.”
Thus, the IBM Homestead became part training center and part retreat. Each year, the grounds would become a tent city of some 500 structures for IBM’s best-performing employees – the 100 Percent Club – to bring their families for a vacation of sorts. There was an 18-hole golf course designed by renowned architect John Van Kleek added in 1937.
The Glen – known locally as the IBM Glen – constitutes 650 acres adjacent to the resort. There, visitors to the public park can unwind among waterfalls and along the trails added by IBM in the 1940s.
It’s natural beauty like this that has provided a continuous bright spot in an area that’s certainly gone through some tough times. The other beacons are entrepreneurial creativity and a little blue-collar grit.
“I started in this town in 1992 and at that time, IBM was going through a big transition,” Jones says. “It was difficult.
“But, then so many people started new businesses,” she says. “They were well-versed and highly technical individuals who, instead of moving out of the area, started their own businesses here.”
It speaks to the resilience of the area that has also suffered from flooding this century, Jones says. Binghamton always finds a way to bounce back, though.
Like the local ownership that resurrected the IBM Homestead as Traditions at the Glen in the early 2000s, a new class of creative visionaries is building on the hearty bones of the past today in restaurants, galleries and performance spaces around Binghamton.
“There’s a presence [in Greater Binghamton] and it feels young and energetic,” Jones says. “If you want a good high-energy, but still relaxed, atmosphere and just to have fun, it’s a good place to start.”
Traditions is proud to be a part of that as a well-preserved respite full of history and modern amenities. Its roots in both Endicott-Johnson and IBM are a perfect example of how “the way things were” are becoming “the way things are” today in Greater Binghamton.