The Jefferson County Historical Society maintains a museum housed in the historic Paddock Mansion in downtown Watertown, New York. The mansion was the home of Edwin Paddock and his wife, Olive, designed by local architect John Hose and built 1876-78 by builder John Griffin. In 1922, when Edwin’s wife Olive Paddock passed away, she bequeathed the home to the Jefferson County Historical Society to be used as a museum. The Society opened the museum in 1924. The Paddock Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 in recognition of its Historical and Architectural attributes.
The basement, first and second floors house museum offices and exhibits. The “permanent” exhibits are reviewed on a rotating basis about every five years for historical accuracy, appropriateness, and maintenance. The first floor contains our main and library galleries, which host revolving short-term exhibits including traveling displays, special collections, and seasonal exhibits. The museum gift shop offers back issues of the Society’s quarterly Bulletin, in addition to other local interest titles, items donated for sale, and heritage merchandise consigned for museum sale and profit. The second floor, in addition to housing exhibits, contains the museum offices and library. The third floor contains our atmospherically-controlled and monitored collections and research department.
The grounds of the Paddock Mansion have been occupied since the earliest days of settlement. In 1803, pioneer Hart Massey built a frame house on the lot which was moved in 1810 by Judge Jabez Foster, who built a Georgian mansion on the site late that year. The Foster home later passed to Loveland Paddock, the developer of the Paddock Arcade on Public Square. On his passing, son Edwin bought out his brothers to become the sole owner of the home. He had the Foster house torn down in 1876 for the construction of his, the present, Paddock Mansion. At some time afterward, Edwin again moved the original Hart Massey home behind the Paddock Mansion, where it stands today.
Continuing Mr. Paddock’s tradition, the Society began in 2001 bringing other historically significant Jefferson County buildings to the grounds to be restored for educational exhibition. The first of these was an early 19th century log cabin brought from the Town of Cape Vincent farm of New York State Assemblyman Darrel J. Aubertine. After two years of restoration, it is now open to the public as a living exhibit of rural pioneer life in Jefferson County. In 2005, another endangered historic structure, the so-called “Pink Schoolhouse” was relocated to the grounds and stabilized using public grants and local donations. Restoration of the Pink Schoolhouse is in progress.
The Society’s collections number over 75,000 artifacts including historic photographs and paintings, local Amerindian artifacts, vintage clothing, quilts, and coverlets. In our basement, we have collections of 19th and early 20th century manufacturing equipment, parlor stoves, and hydraulic turbines. Our barn features collections of farm implements, two early automobiles, carriages, and fire-fighting equipment.
Your donations help:
Funds from ShopforMuseums.com will benefit the JCHS’s ten year plan to completely renovate the museum’s exhibits and programs.
There are many ways you can get involved.
Click here to learn more: