St. Patrick’s Children’s Home at 201 Coffeen St, Watertown, N.Y.
The story of St. Patrick’s Children’s Home starts back in 1893. A plot of land on upper Coffeen Street, the small stretch past Massey Street which was formerly known as West Court Street, was purchased and detailed in the February 3, 1897 edition of the Watertown Re-Union.
A Catholic Orphanage
The papers for the incorporation of St. Patrick’s orphanage of the city of Watertown have been filed in the office of the secretary of state at Albany. The object of the institution is to have a Catholic orphan asylum in the county of Jefferson under state and judicial supervision.
In the fall of 1893, Rev. Father Glenn, pastor of St. Patrick’s church, undertook the project of starting a Catholic orphanage on property purchased on Court Street, then owned by Mrs. Jones, for the sum of $10,000, and the John E. Felt house and lot adjoining for the sum of $4,000, making in all $14,000 in real estate for the site alone. The amount, it is supposed, was paid by Father Glenn out of his own private Funds.
The building was erected on the west end of the site facing on Court Street. The building was erected in 1894-95 and cost upwards of $20,000, all of which was raised by Father Glenn by private subscriptions, fairs, entertainments and donations.
St. Patrick’s Orphanage, as it was known in older days, would be home for over 5,000 children in its first 50 years alone. St. Patrick’s School would be located just a walk up Massey Street on the corner of Arsenal.
The roaring 20s were financially successful for St. Patrick’s Children’s Home as receipts in 1922 totaled over $14,000 with assets at $215,000. Those amounts in 2021 dollars equate to nearly $220,000 and $3.5 million dollars, respectively. During these years, the home sat directly across from the Colonial Beacon Lighthouse Gas Station and, for the fifty-one years of its existence, down the street from the Liberty Theater on Court Street.
In 1922, the St. Patrick’s children’s home would also receive praise after a committee representing the Community Chest visited the institute for an inspection. In the March 23 Watertown Daily Times, it was noted–
Praise of the efficient management and immaculate cleanliness and sanitation of St. Patrick’s orphanage is sounded in a report made by committee of employees of the H. H. Babcock Company, which inspected the institution as representatives of the Watertown Community Chest, Inc., presenting its report to the chest today.
“They were met at the front door by Sister Gertrude, who very courteously conducted them through the building. They were first introduced to all the children, 93 in number, ranging from three years to 15, who were assembled in their respective class rooms, which resembled very much the class rooms of modern grade school, excepting that the floors have a much cleaner appearance. As the committee entered the various class rooms the children rose from their seats and welcomed the visitors in song, which was inspiring because of the cheerful attitude of the children.”
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The city of Watertown would take ownership of the former St. Patrick’s Children’s Home for $262,000 after its residents had moved to a new facility on outer Washington Street in early 1968. It would become the last major Urban Renewal projects in the Court and Arsenal Street triangle, meeting the wrecking ball shortly after in April of 1968.
Today, the site of the former Children’s Home is a parking lot.