The State Street Watertown High School originally started as the Black River Literary and Religious Institute
Built in 1836, the school was founded by Presbyterians and opened the following year. Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to simply the Black River Institute. In 1846, a State Senate bill passed, changing its name to the Jefferson County Institute the following year.
Although it was still four years before it was to be incorporated into a city (1869), Watertown was in need of a high school. With a public enrollment of over 1200 students at the time, not counting North Watertown and Juhelville, which ran from Sewall’s Island to E. Main St., the building would become a public school high school. The Arsenal Street High School, built in 1857, would become a grammar school.
Once incorporated, the city of Watertown would lease the building, located on the corner of State and Mechanic Streets next to the State Street Methodist Church, until a new High School was officially opened as such on Sterling Street in c. 1907 (the building, once finished, was temporarily converted into a hospital in 1904.)
The State Street Watertown High School would then be razed and a new school, State Street Grammar School, would be built in its place.