The Winthrop Flats Apartment Building, Corner of State and Winthrop Streets
The Winthrop Flats was the four story “Gothic-styled” apartment complex built on the corner of State and Winthrop Streets, just a few doors down from Holy Family Church. The Watertown Daily Times addressed the near completion of the building on Feb. 5, 1898 with the following article, transcribed from the linked source due to it being difficult to read after the photo.
L. C. Greenleaf’s Winthrop Flats completed
A Beautiful Structure
A model in style and modern in every detail – all apartments engaged and some occupied.
The “Winthrop.”That is the name by which the splendid new flats erected by L. C. Greenleaf at the corner of State and Winthrop Streets will be known. As completed, they are an ornament to the city, and the building in one of the handsomest yet erected within its borders.
The building is built built upon a solid rock foundation throughout and is therefore likely to endure. It is built completely of pressed brick from the Watertown Pressed Brick company. The plans were prepared by Architect Fay Cornwell of the city and Brennan, Hodge & O’Brien were the contractors who erected the structure. Mr. Greenleaf patronized some talent and industry all the way through.
The size of the building is 50 x 50 and the style is Gothic. Ground for it was broken the later part of last July. The contractors finished their part of the work the latter part of October and at that time finishing touches have been given in abundance. The carpenter work Mr. Greenleaf has himself seen to and directed in person.
The last touches are now being given, the paper hangers at work. Indeed, some of the suites are already finished and occupied and the remainder of the work is expected to be finished in the course of a couple of weeks. All the suites are already engaged, which shows conclusively that Watertownians have an eye for beauty and utility.
Architect Fay Cornwell also constructed the Riverside Flats on Mill Street near the bridge. L. C. Greenleaf was a Major during the Civil War.
The building would unfortunately be destroyed in a 1941. Commenters on the You Haven’t Lived In Watertown, N.Y., If–‘s Facebook Page remarked on having watched the fire from the Holy Family School. The Watertown Daily Times would report of the March 25 fire–
Thirty-seven persons fled their homes at 9 this morning when an $85,000 fire swept through the 19-family Winthrop Apartments, a four-story brick structure at 512-514 State STreet, almost completely destroying the building, and for a time threatened adjacent buildings.
Firemen battled for nearly three hours before finally putting the blaze under control. The fire is believe to have started on the third floor in one of the apartments facing east on State Street. The blaze moved rapidly throughout the entire building and when firemen arrived flames were shooting high into the sky from three sides of the building.
Clouds of black smoke rolled from all parts of the structure, the smoke being followed by streaks of flames which at all times endangered the lives of firemen who were working from high ladders against the building and from fire trucks.
It was further reported that at the height of the blaze, the roof of the building in the rear had collapsed. Traffic jams ensued on neighboring Park, William, Academy and Franklin Streets as hundreds of motorists attempted to drive to the location of the fire. Many would double-park their vehicles in the streets to get a closer look.
During its existence, the Winthrop Flats were located nearby the J. B. Taylor Pool at Sterling Place (behind what is now the Holy Family School) and the Ward Smith Studebaker Motor Cars dealership. The area today looks very different as shown in the two photos below vs. comparing the views nearly 100 years apart.
The Winthrop Flats would be remodeled around 1917, just two years after the photos shown here were taken. It’s unknown if the turret was added at that time or if it existed prior as it’s not visible in these 1915 photos.
In 1937, the Winthrop Flats would be purchased by the Hyman Ellis Estate. Hyman Ellis was the owner of the Globe Store, but had passed away years before. The estate was comprised of Mrs. Hyman Ellis, Joseph Ellis and Mrs. Rose E. Shapiro, daughter of Hyman and wife to Israel A. Shapiro whom the annual Shapiro Citizenship Award is named after.
Israel and Rose Shapiro resided at what would become the White House Inn for a number of years before selling it to its eventual proprietors, Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Phillips.