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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Reference Number 13000697
State New York
County St. Lawrence
Town Potsdam
Street Address 14 LEROY STREET
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 9/9/2013
Areas of Significance ARCHITECTURE, INDUSTRY
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The Watkins-Sisson House is an architecturally and historically significant resource in the Village of Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York. Built in the mid-1860s as a residence for prominent Potsdam citizen Henry A. Watkins (1819-1891), the house was erected in the prevailing Italianate style of that era with brick and stone masonry. Watkins, who was engaged in manufacturing and mercantile pursuits and who also proved a critical figure in the establishment of Potsdams Normal School, of which he served as president, lived in the house with his family from the time of its completion until his death in the early 1890s. The house is additionally associated with a second figure of considerable importance to Potsdam, George Wing Sisson, Sr. (1829-1913). Sisson, who came to this area from Glens Falls, Warren County, in the immediate post-Civil War period, was an influential figure in Potsdams industrial and mercantile enterprises in the latter stages of the nineteenth and the first years of the twentieth century. He was instrumental in the development of the lumber trade there and a pivotal figure in the establishment of the Racquette River Paper Company, 1892, for which he and his immediate family were the principal players for many years. Sisson acquired the nominated house in 1903 and immediately set about making renovations in the Classical Revival taste then popular; on the exterior this included the addition of a monumental portico and porte-cochere to the original square plan, hipped-roof front block. The houses direct affiliation with both the Watkins and Sisson families lends it particular importance in the context of the communitys nineteenth and early twentieth century history. The property has been deemed significant in association with Criterion A, in the area of industry, given the houses direct association with Henry A. Watkins and George W. Sisson, Sr., both of whom were major figures in the industrial interests of Potsdam in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Heirs of Sisson maintained ownership into the 1950s. Additional significance is being claimed under Criterion C, in the area of architecture; the house retains any number of character-defining elements from the ca. 1864 and ca. 1903 building campaigns and today represents an amalgam of the Italianate and Classical Revival styles and the occupancies of both the Watkins and Sisson families.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria