The History Of The Oscar Paddock Carriage House – The Finest Of Its Time
The Oscar Paddock carriage house, built with a barn and stable in 1876 when Oscar Paddock remodeled his home at 216 Washington Street, was a two story brick building fronting Stone Street at its original address of 9 (it would later be renumbered to 117, then 119.) The Paddock carriage house would survive far longer than the Paddock mansion itself, avoiding the ever increasingly larger and larger banks on the first block of Washington Street from Stone Street until 1971 when it would finally be razed as part of the new National Bank construction. Until then, it would have a long and storied life.
When originally constructed by James Murray Calhoun, the Paddock carriage house was considered the model barn of Northern New York and carried over some of the elegant touches of second empire architecture that Oscar Paddock was having incorporated into his home at the time.
Paddock, who owned land on all sides of the the Stone Street Fire House but the street side, would oppose the reportedly rumored new City Hall to be erected in the fire house’s location in the 1870s stating that if he should determine to build around the lot, there would be no light for the hall other than the top and front. Paddock’s carriage house, neighboring of the engine house, would find itself in the shadows of the towering bank building by the 1890s.
After serving as a barn and stable for a number years, in December 1899 the Paddock carriage house would be leased to the Knights of Columbus for use as their clubhouse. A year later, the Watertown Daily Times would announce of its planned improvements–
The Knights of Columbus have decided to enlarge their club rooms at no 9 Stone street and architect D. D. Kieff is now preparing the plans. The plans include enlarged parlors, billiard and pool room, and reception rooms. Work will begin immediately and the contemplated changes will be finished by the 1st of February.
Another year later, the Knights of Columbus would show their gratitude to D. D. Kieff, himself a retiring grand knight, by presenting him with a solid gold Knights of Columbus charm “as a token of the esteem in which he was held by his fellow knights.” Kieff had been the presiding officer the prior two years and The Times noted friends said he had never been caught off guard until the moment he was presented with the gift.
After remodeling and using for a few years, the Knights of Columbus council did not renew their lease and the Huested Photographers, comprised of George and his son Herbert, would open a studio on the bottom floor of the Paddock carriage house in mid-1903. George, born in Potsdam, N.Y., would get his start there in photography as an employee of Nathan L. Stone at the age of eighteen. Stone had a national reputation that extended into numerous states. George, along with his brother Ralph, would later open a studio in Mannsville, N.Y. after having taken photos all over Northern New York.
The Huested Studio moved their operations to Sandy Creek for some time, son Herbert entering the operation with his father which would bring them to Watertown in 1903. Herbert would soon buy his father’s interest out and conduct the business himself while George would open another Huested studio in Gouverneur and then Rome, N.Y., where he operated the last twelve years of his life before passing away in 1922.
Herbert Huested would become one of the most notable photographers in New York State, many of his photos having been posted on this website. Likewise, many area citizens were part of his prolific collection, either as individual portraits or workplace photos taken in front of local shops with staff. At one point, the Huested Studio on Stone Street would encompass portions of both floors, with an operation room for developing the film, a ladies and gents room each and a reception room.
After 15-plus years at the old Paddock carriage house, Herbert Huested would relocate his business to 241-243 Washington Street where he would operate the remainder of his career before retiring in 1943, months before suffering a series of strokes in late December and early January, passing away on January 11 of 1944 at the age of 69.
Huested’s collection of over 15,000 glass negatives were acquired by the Jefferson County Historical Society afterward and represent over four decades of photographic history of the county. According to its website, the Historical Society has the plates, offered for sale, indexed here.
In 1919, the former Paddock carriage house would become home to the Elks Club which moved from the former Brainard Mansion at 215 Washington Street after selling it to the Kamargo Hotel Corporation with plans to build a large hotel on the site after razing it, but the plans fell through during the brief depression of 1920-21.
Like the Knights of Columbus, the Elks Club would renovate the former studio to suit their own purposes, but only stay about four years total. After the Elks Club left, it was used by the Eagles Club until about 1937 for a few years until becoming home to the Rip-Van-Winkle Sleep Store from 1940 to approximately 1947.
At that point, the old Paddock carriage house become home to Curtis-Holmes, originally Curtis-Shearn, Music Company operated by co-owners Charles H. Curtis and Douglas S. Holmes, both originally from Redwood, N.Y. Prior to forming their business, Charles would play in an orchestra for several years in Onondaga County where he would become associated with the Walter Fehl Orchestra, later becoming its manager. He would ultimately travel all over the country and Europe touring with the band before forming the venture in 1931 with Douglas. The duo would completely redecorate the interior with new lighting and carpet throughout and add a recital auditorium in 1947.
Known as “The Home of Music,” the lCurtis-Holmes Music Company would also house General Electric Cablevision, Charles having brought the first cable television service to Watertown as president of C & H TV Service which would be purchased by General Electric Cablevision in 1966. Charles’ son, Donald W., would be named local manager that same year.
After 22 years, one of the longest tenures in the building, Charles H. Curtis and Douglas Holmes would sell the property to the National Bank of Northern New York. Per the terms of the sale, would allow them to continue to use the building until the new National Bank building would be constructed.
In February of 1971, the nearly 100-year-old building that had quite a disparate history would be razed to make way for additional parking space for the bank and for a closed-circuit tv teller station.