Social club perseveres: Black River Valley Club a longtime symbol of Watertown’s history

The present Black River Valley Club building, to the far right, as it looked in 1910, approximately five years after its construction.

By Lenka Walldroff
Jefferson County Historical Society

Watertown was an affluent city during the late 1800s. Its citizens included wealthy business owners, industrial barons and bankers, granting it the distinction of having the highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States – fertile ground for a private social club. It is during this period that the Black River Valley Club was born.

However, the club was not always known as such. What was originally the Union Club was organized in Watertown in 1876 and incorporated in 1891. The name was changed to the Kamargo Club for a brief time and finally the Black River Valley Club in January 1905. Although few surviving records having to do with the original Union Club exist, given the socio-economic status of Watertown during the 1880s, one cannot help but speculate that Watertown’s Union Club might have in some way been associated with the prestigious Union Club in New York City – the second oldest private club in the United States dating back to 1836.

[Read more…]

A storied operation

Redwood glass blowing business changed hands throughout 1800s

Redwood Glass Works workers in an 1880 company photo.

By Lenka Walldroff
Jefferson County Historical Society

The history of Redwood glass actually began more than 190 years ago in Redford, a small village on the west bank of the Saranac River in Clinton County. In October 1831, a factory operating under the trade name of Redford Glass Company was manufacturing high quality window glass. John S. Foster a native of Vermont, the superintendent of the Redford Glass Company, was a glass making genius, but he had rather expensive ideas for his time, and his employers at the glass company discharged him.

[Read more…]

An enduring legacy

Knowlton Bros. opened doors when Jefferson occupied White House

Papermaking has a long history in the north country. In fact it was on the back of the paper industry that the wilderness of Northern New York was developed.

The first paper mill in the north country was started in 1807 by General Walter Martin of Martinsburg, Lewis County. The machinery employed in the mill was powered by hand and the general was pleased if he made 10 pounds of paper per day. Jefferson County’s first mill was started by Gordon Caswell in Watertown quickly thereafter in 1808. It was called the Pioneer Mill.

[Read more…]

Pages: 1 2