St. Patrick’s School, Arsenal Street Watertown, N.Y.
Back in 1922, two parochial schools, St. Patrick’s School and Sacred Heart, had construction delayed due to the lack of availability of Syracuse litholite stone. As with the city’s public schools, the parochial schools were facing unprecedented growth which lead to the acquisition of the former Sterling Mansion about the same time. Unfortunately, the home would take some time to ready for classroom use as its decor was considered too elaborate for such a setting.
Upon its opening in early 1923, the St. Patrick’s School would be located across from the Arsenal Street School and, in later years, next to the A&P Supermarket. With the opening of Sacred Heart as well, the Watertown Daily Times on October 22 would state–
–many of the Catholic children now enrolled in the public schools of this city will be registered there, being divided by parish lines, those in the Sacred Heart parish attending the Sacred Heart school and the St. Patrick’s parish children the St. Patrick’s school. Children from points outside the city will also be enrolling.
In September of the same year, the Watertown Daily Times would document the enrollment in the three parochial schools–
Nearly 700 children are enrolled in the three new parochial schools in the city according to information gathered today and with the children continuing to enter from day to day it is probably that the enrollments will reach the 700 mark.
The parochial school of the Church of our Lady of the Sacred Heart stands first on the list with an enrollment of 262 children in the first six grades. The Holy Family parochial school has an enrollment of about 225 children and the St. Patrick’s parochial school has an enrollment of 183. In the St. Patrick’s school there is now five full grades and the first half of the sixth grade with a kindergarten of 24 children. It is expected that they will have the full seven grades by January.
In 1972, St. Patrick’s Church would face declining enrollment numbers that would ultimately lead to its closure in 1981. Taking out a full page in the Watertown Daily Times, the Church shared some of the history behind its decision-making–
Nine years ago parishioners of the St. Patrick’s Church were confronted with the possibility that declining enrollment and financial problems were about to force the closing of their 50-year old school.
The parishioners rallied to the support of their pastor and the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who have taught at the school since its opening in 1923, and launched a successful campaign to double their enrollment to alleviate the financial problems then facing the school.
That was in 1972, and St. Patrick’s school continues to operate today.
And the commitment to Catholic education and confidence in the future of the Catholic school system have again spurred St. Patrick’s parishioners to embark on a bold undertaking in light of circumstances that have forced the closing of public and private schools across the state and country.
In April, 1979, sensing the need for a more modern building, St. Patrick’s Parish purchased the former public school, the Massey Street School – itself the victim of numbers as enrollment declined – and approximately six acres of land from the Watertown School District at a cost of $60,000.
Their new school was not large enough to house the entire student body of St. Patrick’s, and two months later plans were announced for construction of an $828,000 addition to the former public school building.
In September 1979, only students in kindergarten through fourth grades moved into the Massey Street building. While the fifth though eighth grades remained at the Arsenal Street building until the expansion was completed.
The St. Patrick school building would soon become dilapidated and the top floor was closed. On May, 1981, the Watertown Daily times would state in a headline, “Old St. Patrick School To Be Razed In Summer.”
The three-story building at 261 Arsenal St. that formerly served as St. Patrick’s School is scheduled for demolition this summer to make way for a parish parking lot.
Rev. James J. Ruddy, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish, said the parish soon will ask for bids to tear down the three-story structure that served as a school from its opening in 1923 until this February.
The building would be razed two months later in July of 1981.