norris_woodruff.jpg
Norris Woodruff

Norris Woodruff was a Watertown businessman and entrepreneur, who became one of the wealthiest and most influential people in the village. Aside from his business ventures, Woodruff was also a leader in the community. He was one of the first village trustees when Watertown was incorporated as a village in 1816. Many years later, Woodruff served as Watertown Fire Chief. It was during his tenure as fire chief when, in 1849, much of downtown Watertown was destroyed by fire. Woodruff's bravery in helping citizens put out flames and save possessions is well documented.

The Woodruff House
The Woodruff House

Woodruff's legacy lies in some of the buildings he commissioned. His first building, the Woodruff Block, was located at the corner of Public Square and Court Street. Completed in 1849, this block was considered ahead of its time with regards to the fire safety measures used in its construction. The block, however, did not survive the fire of 1849. Soon after the fire, Woodruff built a new block on the same site. The Iron Block, as it became known, stood for 155 years, until the majority of it was demolished in 2005. A section of the Iron Block, though, remains standing today. Woodruff's most famous building, though, was the Woodruff House (later the Hotel Woodruff). This large, five story hotel dominated the Public Square landscape for 125 years, before being torn down in 1976.

Woodruff's daughter, Sarah, was married to Roswell P. Flower, a Watertown businessman and Governor of New York. Woodruff's granddaughter, Emma Flower Taylor, became one of Watertown's most famous philanthropists.

Woodruff Street and the Woodruff Professional Building (built on the site of the Woodruff House) in Watertown were named for him.


Jefferson County Pioneers


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  • Last modified: 2018/12/06 17:17
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