The Remington Mansion (Later The Remington Institute)
One of the old, glorious mansions of Watertown was the Remington Mansion located at 132 Clinton Street, just a few houses down and opposite side of the old Herring Mansion on the corner of Clinton and Washington Streets.
Built in 1884 for Alfred Remington (1827 – 1909), one of the pioneer manufacturers of wood pulp in this country who would grow one of the largest enterprises in Jefferson County, the Remington Mansion would be sold to Alfred’s son, Charles Remington. In his will, Alfred stated his desire to bequeath his estate to create an institution of higher learning, particularly preparatory for college and university studies, to be named the Remington Institute.
Unfortunately, what was initially believed to be $200,000 in funds to establish the institute turned out to be only $75,000 and the creation would languish until, per his father’s last will and testament, Charles sold the mansion to the city of Watertown in 1935 for the use as a vocational school.
On April 8th, 1936, the Watertown Daily Times would announce the school’s public opening set for April 20th–
Remington Institute will be opened for public inspection Monday, April 20, it was decided at the monthly meeting of the board of education in the city hall chambers Tuesday night. A program to be presented at the opening is now planned and will be announced soon, it was said.
Upon its opening, the Watertown High School band played select songs in their purple and white band uniforms and remarks were made in the Times edition the following day with hopes for the school’s future–
Mr. Landon said that with the establishment of the institute, the school board feels that it has rounded out its school program which now provides for a four-year vocational course.
The head of the education board said that he hoped that at some future time a full-time technical high school will be established here. He pointed out that actual college work is now taught in the institute, which is a type of junior college, and added that it is operated at no expense for the city, it is being supported by federal funds.
In addition to the mansion, the city also received a $5,000 fund set aside for necessary repairs and another fund for its upkeep.
The next decade plus would see the Watertown High School leave its Sterling Street premises for Washington Street, taking with it the vocational classes held at the Remington Institute which lead to the demise of the mansion.
Per David Lane’s series of articles, Mansions and Old Houses of the North Country:
A Remington Institute corporation had been set up and it had been Mrs. Abbie C. Remington’s intent to sell the mansion to the institute, but through probable error it was conveyed to the city instead.
After the board of education abandoned the mansion and transferred its vocational classes to the new senior high school, litigation was carried on in the courts to get the title of the mansion shifted from the city of Watertown to the Remington Institute corporation and last year a supreme court decree was handed down approving the shift.
Accordingly, on September 14 1954, the city deeded the mansion to Remington Institute, which now owns it. But since the new senior high school was put into use over four years ago, the mansion has been vacant.
In 1955, Remington Institute Trustees attempted to sell the mansion to the Board of Education for $20,000. The Board, however, rejected the offer, stating that another $20,000 would be necessary to “put the property in condition.” The Board of Education had been contemplating use of the mansion and its carriage house for offices and storage space.
By late 1955, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. would asked for rezoning of the land with plans to purchase and build a single-story office in the space. The sale of the land would go through and, in late May of 1956, the Remington Mansion would be razed.
The new building housing the Metropolitan Life Insurance offices, which had occupied the Watertown National Bank for more than 50 years previously, would open in November, 1956.