The Sterling Book Store Was Once The Longest Operating Store In Watertown
John C. Sterling, the only son of early Watertown Pioneer Micah Sterling of Sterling Place to survive infancy, opened the Sterling Book Store in 1848 – one year before the Great Fire that destroyed much of downtown Watertown. Following the completion of the Paddock Building shortly thereafter, Sterling would move his store into the historic Paddock Arcade.
An article in the Watertown Daily Times dated December 21, 1914 titled “An Old Store” celebrated the book store’s longevity with the following synopsis of its history–
An Old Store
A John Sterling Has Been at Head of Concern Since 1848.
Since the Sterling book store was started in 1848 a John Sterling has been at the head of the firm. This period of 66 years is the longest time that any one name has appeared as the senior member of a firm operating a store in this city.
The Sterling book store was opened by J. C. Sterling, father of the present John Sterling, in 1848, in a store situated about where the Silas L. George jewelry store is now. After the erection of the Paddock Building, following the fire of 1849, the store was moved into the the store situated where the Daniel W. Cahill drug store is.
In 1868 the present site of the Postal Telegraph Office was included in the floor space of the store and later on part of the other side of the Arcade was included in the book store. In 1890 the store moved into the old Y.M.C.A. building, where it remained until the demolition of the building two years ago (1912). The store has lately been moved into the new quarters in the recently constructed Y.M.C.A. Building.
During the career of the book store there were various members in the firm, but either John Sterling or his father has been at the head since 1870. His father, J. C. Sterling, retired in 1894. The name of John Sterling has appeared in the advertising columns of the The Times practically every day since a year or two after the present John Sterling took hold of the business.