The Woodruff House was a large hotel that stood on Public Square
. Built after the Great Fire of 1849
, the building was commissioned by Norris Woodruff
and designed by architect Otis Wheelock
. The 80 room hotel opened it's doors in 1851, and became known as one of the finest hotels in New York State. It attracted many illustrious visitors throughout it's history, including Frederick Douglass
, Susan B. Anthony and Ulysses S. Grant. The hotel's ballroom and dining facilities also became well known.
The hotel was greatly expanded in the 1920's adding an additional 210 rooms to its inventory. It was at this time that the building became known as the Hotel Woodruff.
The Woodruff's preeminence lasted for more than a century. The hotel began to suffer in the 1960's when passenger trains (which used to stop behind the Woodruff) ceased coming to Watertown. Also a factor in the hotel's decline was the building of modern hotels in Watertown
, such as the Carriage House Inn
on Washington Street
and the Ramada Inn on outer Arsenal Street
. All of the old downtown hotels suffered, and the Woodruff was no exception. After a slow decline that lasted for more than a decade, the Woodruff closed its doors in 1974 and was soon abandoned. After sitting vacant for two years, the city razed the structure in 1976.
Anthony Street, a one way road which ran under the Woodruff from Public Square
to the current J.B. Wise Parking Lot, will be rebuilt in 2011 as part of the Public Square/J.B. Wise reconstruction project
. This road will once again allow access to the parking lot from Public Square
New York Times Archive: Transcript of President Ulysses S. Grant's speech at the Woodruff House August 2, 1872. (PDF file)
Historic Structures in Watertown