Starbuck Mansion

253 Clinton Street


One of Watertown’s most imposing mansions is that of the late Senator James F Starbuck at 253 Clinton Street. Of wooden construction, the large house with two-story portico supported by tall, fluted columns, smacks of the Southern Colonial in type and was constructed for Senator Starbuck by Clement Colburn, a local contractor, who took an “extended trip” to Syracuse and Utica to view their mansions and gather ideas.

James F Starbuck was descended from an old Nantucket Quaker family. He studied law with Lansing & Sherman, was admitted to practice in 1843 was prominent in North Country Democratic politics, was secretary of the state constitutional convention of 1846 during the governorship of Silas Wright, at which Samuel J Tilden was also a delegate, supported Martin Van Buren for president in 1848 Franklin Pierce in 1852 James Buchanan in 1856 Stephen A Douglass in 1860 George B McClellan in 1864 and Horatio Seymour 1872.

In 1861 he aided in recruiting troops for the Union army, he had been master in chancery in 1845-6 and district attorney of Jefferson County for three years from January 1 1851 and defeated Anson Harder, Redwood, Republican, by 308 votes in 1875 for state senator of the 18th district.

His Democratic friend Samuel J Tilden was governor at the time and one of Senator Starbuck’s great speeches in the senate was made January 24, 1877 on “The Great Conspiracy!” charging military interference in elections.
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