Montgomery Ward at 231 Court Street, Watertown N.Y.
The Montgomery Ward & Co. was a pioneer in the early mail-order business. In 1929, it would buy one of the landmark properties on Court Street, the Jacob’s homestead which stood for many years, and build their new store next to the Liberty Theater.
Initially, in March of 1929, it was believed a Sear-Roebuck store would be erected in the location. Numerous articles discussed this, as well as an architect’s drawing with the name on it, however, it was noted in a July 1929 article—
It had been supposed that the Sears, Roebuck company would acquire the site for a store because of a contract for its purchase made by Charles Kahn of Philadelphia last March. It is understood that the Sears, Roebuck company intended to go through with the deal but through some turn of circumstances the Montgomery and Ward company was able to step in and secure title to the property.
The new structure, which will be of modern and attractive design will be started within two weeks and plans will be ready for the approval of the city building inspector within the next week, it was stated by Mr. Hefferman. The officer of the Now Realty company would not give the estimated cost of the building.
Interestingly, the Jacob’s residence, prior to being razed, had a “lunch-wagon,” or Pullman car located at the front of the property. In the S&B Diner article, it’s noted that it was placed there in 1926 and shortly thereafter, help-wanted advertisements in the Watertown Daily Times began appearing for the Eleanor Diner, located at the very same address a year prior to its long-standing tenure on State Street began.
It’s assumed that, prior to the razing of the former Jacobs residence and construction of the new Montgomery Ward, the Pullman car was relocated to the small lot between its then current location and the Liberty Theater, given the new address of 233 Court Street at some point in the process.
The new store’s opening would be announced to the public in an April 3, 1930 Watertown Daily Times article–
Ward Building To Open May 3
The Montgomery Ward company store will be officially opened May 3, it was announced today by F. S. Kern, superintendent of construction.
The new Ward building is is completed, with the exceptions of electric wiring installation, and interior decorating and painting. The interior walls are being painted in cream color with chocolate brown trimmings.
The building is located on the sight (sic) of the Jacobs homestead, 231 Court Street, and is modern in every detail. There will be 25,000 square feet of floor space. The basement will be devoted to house furnishings, painted, stoves, hardware, automobile accessories, and plumbing supplies. The first floor will have shoes, draperies, toilet articles, gentlemen’s clothing, sporting goods, etc.
The mezzanine floor will be for ladies’ ready-to-wear clothing, millinery and infants’ clothes. The second floor will have radios, rugs, carpets, linoleums, furniture, washing machines, etc.
Although the building was only 3o-years old during the urban renewal program, it, too, fell victim to the “triangle of destruction” that befell nearly all the buildings between Court and Arsenal Streets. On Tuesday, November 26, 1966, Montgomery Ward would announce its closure early in 1967–
Ward Will Close Store In This City
Unable to find a suitable facilities for relocation in Watertown, Montgomery-Ward, Inc., 231 Court Street, will close its doors in the city by Feb. 1, 1967, it was learned today from Carl Casciere, manager of the local store.
“We have no alternative but to close up,” said Mr. Casciere.
Two years ago, with the urban renewal project pushing its way down Court street, the firm began looking for a spot in the city to relocate their business, but to no avail. Mr. Casciere explained that the firm had investigated the possibilities of opening a new store at one of the city’s four shopping plazas, but that the land value of these locations was more than the firm was willing to pay.
Montgomery Ward would eventually open a facility at 239 State Street, known as a company franchise agency store. Another location for some time was Stateway Plaza, before becoming one of the anchor stores at the Salmon Run Mall in 1993.