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A number of brick buildings in the area of the parking lot shared with Feel Safe
Door Company and Black River Plumbing, off from Vanduzee Street, Watertown
These Vanduzee Street and the accompanying Martin Street locations were
suggested by Hope M. of
Perceptionphotography.biz after she sent me some of her own photos of this
photo of the location, also shows locations of Martin Street Buildings (below)
Update 11/3/2015 - a number of the accompanying warehouse buildings burned in a
large fire, and most (possibly all) of the rest of the associated Watertown
Steam Engine buildings shown here were razed. Photos shown below.
This is another angle of previous buildings.
Hope has been doing research and has
found that these buildings are the remains of
the old Watertown Steam Engine Company, which may have been
owned by the Palmer Brothers.
Hope writes -
"The Steam Engine Company located in Watertown, New York held patents on a
portable steam engine with the cylinder and valve chest integral with the boiler
steam dome, and a riding cut-off valve. The first patent was in 1871. Many
of the Watertown Steam Engine Co.’s portable steam engines exist today, in
private collections or in museums." The first portable steam engine made
in the United States was made in Watertown in 1847.
Close-up of front, open door swinging.
My own research indicates that Daniel Kieff and his
builders and contractors built the extensive builders of the Watertown Steam
Company in addition to many other local buildings of the time; like the Times
Building, the Smith Block, the Opera House block, Babcock Buggy Works, etc.
It's hard to find much information on this business. One text mentions
that they occupied the place formerly used by a C.B. Hoard to build firearms and
that they had a machine shop on Moulton and Mill Street.
The company was formerly called the Portable
Steam Engine Company.
business in 1866 with $40,000 and had 35,000 square feet of flooring for large
boiler and blacksmith shops, store houses, etc. It's capital then
increased to $200,000 and the business employed 100 men, and turned out 400
steam engines, saw mills, and agricultural engines sold all over the US, Canada,
Cuba and probably other parts of the world. Much of the cast iron they
used was produced locally.
There is no indication of when this company shut down but there are some
collectors who have Watertown Steam Engine Company steam engines manufactured as
late as 1920.
This building's crumbling brick
More of the front
More of the front
More brick buildings further down the area.
Scannerman writes "The entire complex was used for years
as the regional HQ for the NYS Department of Transportation maintenance
operations, now located on Rt. 342. Around back, near where the loading dock and
old powerhouse are, you can see where road striping machines were apparently
tested. James Johnson was the district traffic signal foreman; the signal shop
was located in a few small rooms on the VanDuzee Street side of the building
closest to Vanduzee, now used by a towing company for storage. The brick
building next door, now used by JRC, was also part of the WSE complex."
Panoramic shot of a large and long
brick warehouse. The other section has large almost-eaves-to-ground windows.
Old drawing of Watertown Steam Engine Company
Watertown Steam Engine Company, 1891, found by Scannerman;
Another brick building, right beside the Feel Safe Door Company. This one
is interesting in that it seems to have a brick "silo'.
Bill writes: "This building housed boilers for all the
other buildings in the complex. The attached structure is what is left of the
large smokestack that the state took down after they left the site on the early
1980's. There is a cement wall to the left that was used as a outdoor loading
A brick building on the other side of the railroad tracks, over near Martin and
Holly Street. The old Agway building is in the left part of this photo,
now partially used by Cota Flooring.
writes about the D G Corbett Boiler Works;
"Daniel G Corbett was my great-grandfather. He was born in Ireland in 1867 and
emigrated with his family in 1874. He attended school in Oswego, NY, and after
leaving school, learned boilermaking, possibly under the employ of the Kingsford
Starch Company of Oswego. By 1891, Daniel was in Watertown, where in 1892 he
married Josephine Lagoe, of Redfield. They built a home at 523 Mohawk Street,
Watertown, where they raised 6 children.
In May, 1911, Daniel was one of the
charter members of the North Side Improvement League and served on its first
board of directors.
On July 25, 1911, Bobby Leach, a pool hall operator from
Watertown became the second person, and the first male, to intentionally go over
Niagara Falls in a barrel. Bobby's barrel, as family lore will have it, was a
salvaged boiler which was made watertight by Bobby's friend and neighbor, Daniel
In November, 1911, Daniel was elected as Alderman on the
Watertown Common Council, where he served one two-year term.
On September 14,
1915, Daniel G. Corbett filed a certificate of assumed name, allowing him to
conduct business as the Watertown Boiler Works. Mr. Corbett constructed a plant
at 941-9 West Main Street (The building shown in the photo). Previous to
establishing this business, Daniel Corbett had been an employee of the former
Watertown Steam Engine Works, on Vanduzee Street, until they ceased to do
business in 1915. He had last been employed as a foreman in the boiler
department of the Steam Engine Company, and was known throughout the area as an
expert boilerman. With the formation of the Watertown Boiler Works, Daniel
Corbett assumed the repair and warranty work for the Steam Engine Company's
product, both portable and stationary.
He continued in business for 12 years
and sent crews throughout the North Country maintaining and repairing boilers in
manufacturing concerns and other businesses. The Watertown Boiler Works won the
contract for, and built, the standpipe (water tower) which stood in Thompson
Park until the 1970s.
Daniel was a great supporter of education, and
presented a petition in 1924 to the Board of Education for the replacement of
the outdated and antiquated Mead Street School. He never lived to see the new
school, which was not built until the summer of 1959, when a dozen or more of
his great-grandchildren had already been graduated from the old school.
the election of 6 November 1924, Daniel Corbett received one vote for State
Senator when his name was written in, reported as the only write-in in the
entire city that year.
In the summer of 1928, Great-grandpa became greatly
ill from the 'indigestion' which had bothered him for some time forced him to
retire. His business was foreclosed on and on December 1, 1928, the building was
sold at public auction to J. McCormack for $6100.
He died on March 9, 1929
and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery."
Martin Street, Watertown.
Notice the interesting little round window at the top. This structure is
on the other side of the railroad tracks from the previous photo(s).
Hope M. of
Perceptionphotography.biz says that her research shows that this was once a
brewery but wonders if someone can confirm this?
Scannerman writes "Demolished April 2011. I believe Hall's Ski Lift used
it for awhile. I'll research it. The train tracks that are almost
buried near the building are I THINK what's left of a spur that may have gone
all the way to Taggart Brother's Papermill. Manufacture dates on the rails
are 1906 and 1911, though." Scannerman amends this to say that the
tracks did for a fact go all the way to Taggart's Paper Mill.
On 08/07/12 Tramway guy writes "I worked for Hall Ski Lift for a long time. This
building was indeed used by them as a warehouse and shipping department. Also
some medium assembly work. It. Had definitely been part of a brewery at some
point, as there were cork-lined walls in some rooms. There was also a tunnel
that connected to another nearby building that had some old beer labels, etc.
On 08/26/12 Jack Donato writes "My father worked for Hall's and the subsequent
companies for almost 35 years. He has said it was once a brewery. The main
manufacturing building (not this one) was originally the trolley car barn for
the city of Watertown."
Here are two shots of the rear of the previous building on Martin Street,
taken much later then the other shots on this page. This was taken
with a telephoto from across the river on Newell Street at the
Whitewater Trail System. A big
chunk of the rear is missing and the floor is exposed. If you look
very closely at the thing on top of the white smaller building it seems to be a
camper trailer on the roof.
You can find some interior shots of this
building posted by "The League if
Extraordinary Ordinaries" - a local Urban Explorer's group page -
photos are here.
that this was demolished in April 2011.
On Martin Street, at right angles to the previously shown building. Lots of graffiti.
Colin writes on 8/23/10 "this
building is not abandoned" and "can someone tell me more information to this
writes that this is being stabilized, April 2011.
concrete block building nearby the previous buildings. Martin Street, Watertown
Henry S. writes: "This building was once a fruit and vegetable business around
1984, It was then closed, shortly thereafter it was rented out to someone, and
remnants of the business were found on the floor, that being pot. It then became
a recycling office, as did the whole complex, for various recycling products.
PS, Early on this was a soft drink warehouse, as there is some of the brands ads
still on the walls, I believe they sold 'Squirt'".
"Also being worked on April 2011; various old parts removed, work being done.
I think it may have been a dairy at one point due to interesting milk-can-sized
doors on the east side."
Photo from Scannerman, showing doors
Another angle of previous
This building and location
was suggested by Hope M. of
Abandoned house in Dexter, County Route 53 (Cemetery Road)
Hope M. writes that she heard that kids in Dexter called it the "Creepy
Collapsing barn behind previous house
Taken from the other side, two buildings collapsing/collapsed right in the
village of Dexter.
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