The Vallat House On Factory Street: A Hotel At Factory Square
With all the manufacturing on Factory Street, besides bars and restaurants, workers needed a place to stay, such as the Vallat House. Located right at Factory Square, the hotel/house was the residence of the Vallat family, though it is undetermined when it was initially built; the earliest mention of it is in 1891 when a T. W. Vallat (Thaddeus W. Vallat) had what was presumably a hotel license denied for 113 Factory Street (which was renumbered in 1908.)
T. W. Vallat, owned and operated the saloon located there, called the T. W. Vallat Beer Cafe; his son, Thaddeus R. Vallat, owned and operated the hotel there for many years. Several other Vallat family members also lived there in what may have been a family business.
The location of the Vallat House was perfect for workers either at H. H. Babcock Co., Olga Knitting Mills, the No. 2 Engine House, and the Bagley & Sewall Co., all within a short walk distance. Including a bar and cafe also gave the Vallat House a leg-up on nearby competitors such as Barney’s Place and Colesante’s, located a short distance down Factory Street.
The Watertown Daily Times published an article on May 2, 1893, detailing yet another denial of the hotel license application–
Mr. Vallat appeared before the board and desired to know why his application was rejected. The complaints against granting the license stated that gambling was allowed in the saloon, and that beer was sold during the working hours to the employees in the shops located near the saloon. Mr. Vallat stated that the charges were all false, that he did not allow gambling, and, furthermore, did not sell beer to the employes. He stated that he conducted an orderly place and tried to live up to letter of law. No one appeared against him this morning. The board will give the matter further investigation.
The Vallat House eventually received its license and, in 1903, was noted as being a two-story wooden structure that did not require a fire escape, per then Watertown Fire Department Chief Morrison, who was conducting investigations at the time. Whether it was erroneously reported as being a two-story structure as opposed to the current three-story building is unknown; no information was found regarding any significant modifications to the building or its construction date.
The younger Thaddeus had taken over the operation of the Vallat House by the early 1920s. A sportsman, hunter, and taxidermist, he had come across an owl that he donated to the burgeoning Thompson Park Zoo in 1921. Years later, he had stuffed two snow owls for a customer in Henderson, The Times stating “one (was) the largest ever seen in this section, having a wing span of four feet ten inches.”
The location of the Vallat House, on the corner of Factory and Fairbanks Street and across from Huntington Street, had long been an area of numerous accidents, particularly with the Pearl Street bridge, formerly known as the Factory Street bridge, located just east of it and the trains running down the street.
In 1928, a tragic accident involving the then-oldest employee of Bagley & Sewall, Henry Martin, 81, happened right in front of the Vallat House and was witnessed by Thaddeus. Martin had attempted to cross Factory Street, but a sidetracked freight car obscured his vision, and he walked in front of an approaching train hauling milk cars, which struck and hurled him to the side of the track across from his home at 668 Huntington Street.
Years later, the crossing would lead to another fatality when Joseph M. Dangerfield, an 89-year-old resident at the then-former Vallat House, was struck by a car crossing the street in the fog.
The Vallat House was eventually sold in 1956 to Harry H. Klugman shortly before his death by Thaddeus’s daughter, Mrs. John J. (Madeline) D’Aprile after he had moved to live with her family in Rochester at the age of 81. Thaddeus passed away four years later, his obituary reading, in part–
Thaddeus R. Vallat, 84, of Rochester, formerly of Watertown, where he owned and operated the old Vallat Hotel at 659-666 Factory Street, died Friday in Rochester.
Mr. Vallat was born in Watertown, Sept. 25, 1875, a son of the late Thaddeus W. and Alice Turcott Vallat. The family, long time residents of Watertown, lived years ago in that section of the north side of the city known as Juhelville, but later moved to 661 Factory Street.
Mr. Vallat lived the greater part of his life at the Factory Street address and operated the Vallat hotel there for years. The hotel is now occupied by Jerry’s restaurant. Mr. Vallat was also a taxidermist.
Jerry’s Hotel remained in operation until the early 1980s, and in 1996, the location became home to the Barre Apartments. At the time, the property was listed as having 29 rooms and ten studios, in addition to several other miscellaneous rooms for a total of 43.
Most recently, the apartments have made the news as having been condemned in September 2021. Since the late 1970s, almost every search containing the address of 661 Factory Street resulted in articles in the Watertown Daily Times with some type of criminal-related activity.