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Visiting Downtown Watertown, New York: Overlooked by the 1891 Romanesque First Baptist Church's Monumental Clock Tower

Updated on April 22, 2019
State Flag of New York
State Flag of New York | Source
Clock on Public Square (Watertown, New York)
Clock on Public Square (Watertown, New York) | Source

FIne, Romanesque Revival Features

Dating from 1891, and executed in Romanesque Revival style, is First Baptist Church at Watertown, New York: a highly prominent building overlooking the Public Square; the building itself is at the intersection of State and Mill Streets.

The existing structure dating from 1891 was not the congregation's first building; previous structures dated from 1837 and 1846 respectively, the first of which was destroyed in the fire; its replacement gave way to the present structure in 1891 (1). The beginnings of the congregation which later met in these buildings occurred with services in Watertown from 1823 onwards (2).

From the details of the architecture, it is clear that the building is heavily into Romanesque style (3), which enjoyed a very popular period at the end of the 19th century. There are several, conspicuous Syrian arches — indeed, even a profusion of them; rustication of stonework is very prominent; and the tower exhibits examples of conical pinnacles.

The building is executed in Watertown limestone and in marble from Gouverneur, New York.

With its situation facing onto Watertown's Public Square, First Baptist Church is part of Watertown's Public Square Historic District, and is included in the U. S. National Register of Historic Places.

I was glad that I visited the Downtown area of Watertown, New York, when travelling through the area; and the tower of First Baptist Church is indeed hard to miss.

April 22, 2019


(1) See also:

(2) See also:

(3) In North America, particularly, the late 19th century saw the popularity of what was known as Richardson Romanesque, named for architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886).

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Public Square, Watertown, NY facing east.
Public Square, Watertown, NY facing east. | Source

Also worth seeing

In Watertown itself, other prominent structures include: The Flower Memorial Library, the Masonic Temple, Trinity Episcopal Church and Parish House, and the original County Courthouse; and many others; the Jefferson County Historical Society and Museum is located at 228 Washington Street.

At Brewerton, New York, (distance: 56 miles / 90.1 kilometres) on Oneida Lake, is the Blockhouse Museum, operated by the Fort Brewerton Historical Society; a reproduction of a 1759 structure is open to the public.

At Syracuse, New York, (distance: 69.9 miles / 112.5 kilometres), Clinton Square has many examples of noted architecture; Temple Concord is a synagogue dating from 1839; museums in the city include the Erie Canal Museum and the Everson Museum of Art, with an extensive pottery collection; Crouse College at Syracuse University, is a striking, late 19th century Richardson Romanesque building; the domed Ondonaga County Courthouse, in Beaux Arts style, dates from 1906.

Boldt Castle on Heart Island, accessible via Alexandria Bay, New York (distance: 29.9 miles / 48.1 kilometres). The castle's Yacht House, on Wellesley Island, with its boat collection, is also in its own right listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

1000 Islands Skydeck, Hill Island, Canada (distance: 31.5 miles / 50.7 kilometres); nearest large town in Canada: Gananoque. This tower facility with an observation deck 130 metres high offers outstanding 360 degree views of the Thousand Islands. Hill Island is situated between the Thousand Islands Bridge and Wellesley Island, New York.


How to get there: Interstate 81 (Exits 45 and 47) is the nearest major road route to Watertown, NY. By air, the airport at Watertown, NY offers intermittent air services. Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), at Syracuse, New York (distance from Watertown, NY: 65.6 miles / 105.6 kilometers) is served by Delta Connection, offering scheduled flights to New York airports, with wide flight connections; a variety of car rental options is available at SYR. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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