Hyman G. Ellis And The Globe Store
The Globe Store’s history began after the arrival of Hyman G. Ellis in Watertown, N.Y., in 1892 (though you’ll see both 1892 and 1894 as given dates.) Hyman’s search for a small location resulted in the basement of an old home on Court Street belonging to the Hungerford family.
As the Thursday, May 31, 1934, edition of the Cape Vincent Eagle states:
Such was the beginning of the present Globe store 40 years ago. Within only a few years, Mr. Ellis’ patronage had increased immensely.
In January, 1917, after the business had moved a couple of times due to expansion, Mr. Ellis had a fireproof brick block, 541/2 by 138 built. This was the first unit of the present store.
Mr. Cole leased space within the old Cole Block, a wooden structure that existed on the present site, in 1907. By 1912, he purchased the entire Cole Block and the Cole house on Jackson Street. Construction on the first part of the Globe in its longstanding form would take place in 1919.
In 1923, Hyman Ellis purchased the former Van Brunt home at 325 Washington Street, which had been purchased several years earlier and extensively renovated by J. B. Taylor. The home stayed within the Ellis family, Rose A. Shapiro and husband Israel Shapiro, for many years until being sold to Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Phillips, who would turn the brown sandstone mansion into the well-known White House Inn. The Shapiro family also owned the Winthrop Flats before it was destroyed in a fire.
Further Expansion in the 1920s and 1930s
Mr. Hyman’s increasing business would demand additional room. Before long, the new building constructed in 1919 – 1921 would be expanded upon. As reported in the Dec. 12, 1924, Watertown Daily Times-–
Hyman G. Ellis, proprietor of the Globe Store, has just purchased the three properties on Court Street, adjoining the Globe Store at 308 – 312 – 316 Court Street now occupied by William Straus’ Bakery, Sidney Mantell, jeweler, and the A. and P. Tea Company’s grocery store.
The purchase was made largely to provide for the possibility of future expansion. Mr. Ellis also purchased the 60-foot frontage on Jackson Street at the rear of the Globe Store, and the proprietors of the latter are considering the building of a wing to the present building in the rear, to take care of the expansion of their business. This plan is being considered, but has not been decided upon.
The following year, the Globe Store would celebrate its 31st anniversary with a dinner on the second floor of its premise. Approximately 65 employees would attend, listening to speeches from various community members, including Mayor John B. Harris, who noted the Globe’s success over the years. When it was Hyman Ellis’s turn to speak, he did so in such a fashion that reflected a man of philanthropy and service to his community–
“At no time in our history was there any thought of making great wealth for ourselves,” said Mr. Ellis. “We had no selfish interests. It was just work, for work’s sake, and hard work at that, in those early days to nourish the small frail trade which the store had. We sought only to serve the community, and I think that has been on of the greatest factors in our success.”
Mr. Ellis would then give credit to every employee’s devotion to the business and their desire to “give to the public only the most and the best merchandise for its money.”
In November of 1926, Hyman Ellis would leave for surgery at John Hopkins hospital in Baltimore after suffering poor health for a period of time. Although his condition would reportedly improve initially, Mr. Ellis would, unfortunately, pass away in mid-December 1926. The following day, neighboring merchants such as Max Albert, Boys’ Specialty Shop, Herr Fashion Shop, and The People’s Store, amongst others, placed an advertisement in the Watertown Daily Times informing patrons their stores would be closed during the funeral for Hyman G. Ellis as a token of respect. Even the flag at Public Square was lowered to half-mast.
The will of Hyman G. Ellis gave life rights to the property at 325 Washington Street and the Globe Store to his widow, Anna Ellis, and subsequently, after her death, it was to one-half each to his son Joseph Ellis and daughter Mrs. Rose Shapiro. 1934 the Globe underwent a major expansion, amassing 40,000 sq feet and becoming Watertown’s most modern store. It would re-open as “The New Globe,” as it remained under the ownership of the Ellis Family.
The Globe would undergo another remodel in 1946, updating the entire first floor. In 1951, it received a new facade. Over the years, it continued to be a popular store and was headed by Arnold Shapiro, with a reported $300,000 in improvements made in its last ten years. Arnold Shapiro also created the Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award in remembrance of his father. The Greater Watertown – North Country Chamber of Commerce presents the award annually to an outstanding citizen of the Greater Watertown area.
In December of 1973, the Globe Store would close for good. The structure itself would go on to have some success as The Globe Mini-Mall for some years into the 1980s, but, aside from a brief stint as home to a church in recent years, it has largely been vacant.
In 2020, the city of Watertown condemned the building, and its future seemed a foregone conclusion until a local businessman, Dick Alexander, purchased the facility for $85,000. As of 2021, he had removed the asbestos from the building and was looking to donate it to either an agency or advocacy that could use it to help the homeless and those with mental health issues. See the updated news segment below for more information.
A new developer, Daniel Queri, has recently expressed interest in refurbishing the building into retail space and more than a dozen market-rate apartments.