New Endowment Perpetuates Club’s History, Enables Others to Continue Support
WATERTOWN — A rich history and legacy of civic involvement and community betterment that spanned more than a century will endure thanks to a new North Side Legacy Fund permanently established at the Northern New York Community Foundation. The fund will forever honor and perpetuate the heritage and good works of the North Side Improvement League, which dissolved its assets last year and invested proceeds from the sale of its Mill Street property in the Legacy Fund.
Staring next year, the fund will award scholarships to graduating Watertown High and Immaculate Heart Central School seniors. Students will be invited to apply through the Community Foundation. The Legacy Fund will also make grants to charitable organizations that serve city residents. A North Side Legacy Fund Advisory Committee comprised of property owners on Watertown’s north side will work in partnership with the Community Foundation to recommend scholarships and grant awards. Other than scholarships, grant awards will only be awarded to nonprofit organizations that broadly serve the community.
The fund is also an opportunity for those to whom the North Side Improvement League and the city’s north side holds special meaning to support through tax-deductible gifts and long-term legacy planning. Those interested in helping to build the fund can contact the Community Foundation.
“This is our best choice to move forward and we are very happy to join the Community Foundation,” said William Parody, former league vice president who has dedicated 25 years of service to the organization. “People who have done a lot of work for our community aren’t going to be forgotten as we continue the good works of the league.”
Mr. Parody notes that he and others involved in creating the legacy fund are “thrilled to be represented by the Community Foundation in such a nice and respectable way.”
The Community Foundation is honored to be entrusted as the permanent home for the league to continue the charitable work that countless people throughout a 107-year history were so committed to seeing succeed as they worked to improve quality of life for Watertown residents.
“The North Side Improvement League holds an important place in our community’s story, and this is a meaningful and lasting way for all of the efforts of past can make a difference in the lives of others for generations to come,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “It is also a unique way for those with strong ties to the north side to consider extending their support of the positive work the league was known for,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director.
About the North Side Improvement league
A group of Watertown citizens formed the North Side Improvement League in 1911 after they were discouraged with voters’ defeat of a city bond measure to construct a bridge that would have connected West Main and Jackson streets across the Black River. Robert Cahill, who was later elected mayor, was determined that similar projects would not realize the same fate, so he helped to start the league with 13 others who were known as the “bridge boosters.” A year later, in August 1912, the league incorporated and bought the former Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at Thompson and Gale streets, which served as its clubhouse for 58 years. In 1969, the league opened a 9,600-square-foot clubhouse that could accommodate 700 people.
In its early years, the league took a progressive role in many issues before City Council and its members wielded political influence as politicians seeking office at nearly every level — city, county, state, and national — visited the league’s Mill Street headquarters. As recent as 2009, the vice president came to the league to campaign for a Congressional candidate. At its peak in the 1990s, the league had 1,600 members.
The Mill Street club was once a hive of activity with events including class reunions, dinners, and social, civic and political functions. The league also sponsored Little League baseball teams and Boy Scout troops and awarded college scholarships.
Human service and community engagement were trademarks of league membership. At one time, the league was represented in more than 30 community organizations, and nearly every church, charitable and civic organization in the city. Volunteer service was a hallmark of those who belonged to the league.
At the height of its charitable efforts, the league supported 49 charitable and youth service organizations in the Watertown areas and provided financial assistance to 25 college students.
About the Northern New York Community Foundation
Since 1929, the Northern New York Community Foundation has invested in improving and enriching the quality of life for all in communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
Through strategic partnerships with businesses and organizations, charitable foundations, and generous individual donors, the Community Foundation awards grants and scholarships from an endowment and collection of funds that benefit the community. Its commitment to donors helps individuals achieve their charitable objectives now and for generations to come by preserving legacies of community philanthropy while inspiring others.
The Community Foundation is a resource for local charitable organizations, donors, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations. It also works to bring people together at its permanent home in the Northern New York Philanthropy Center to discuss challenges our communities face and find creative solutions that strengthen the region and make it a great place to live, work, and play.