On October 6, 1925, fifty residents of Watertown met with David Woodward at M’Fingal Inn Bungalow. He informed his guests of his love for the Town and his desire to do what he could to make it a better place in which to live. He had therefore concluded that the organization of a Foundation, incorporated under the laws of the State, should be undertaken for the purpose of receiving and maintaining funds and using the income therefrom to improve the social and living conditions of the town. He explained that he had had some experience in the organization of a similar Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia and that six residents of Watertown had pledged $500 a year as a nucleus of such funds. He suggested that an opportunity be afforded to each resident of Watertown who was likely to be interested in the establishment of the Foundation to become one of its Charter Members by subscribing to a pledge to contribute to it not less than $100. By such action all persons subscribing before October 21, 1925 would be declared and forever known as Charter Members of the Foundation. These subscribers would form a temporary organization to function until the Foundation had been incorporated.
All present on October 6, 1925 approved Mr. Woodward’s suggestions. Mr. Horace D. Taft was elected Chairman and Mr. John L. Scott, Secretary of the meeting then held by those present. Residents of Watertown were invited to become Charter Members under the plans outlined by Mr. Woodward. A plan of organization at a meeting of the Charter Members was held at the M’Fingal Inn Bungalow on October 21, 1925.
Within a short time, a total of ninety-five residents of Watertown applied for Charter memberships. The Foundation was organized as a Corporation without capital stock on December 4, 1925. On July 15, 1926, Mr. Woodward made a gift of $5000 to the Foundation for the purpose of establishing a Student Aid Fund. He stated that loans should be made from this fund of a reasonable amount to any Watertown student or graduate of Taft School on the basis of scholastic merit, financial need, and contributions to school and community. The Foundation received $10,000 from the estate of David Woodward. Mr. Woodward left Watertown as a young man becoming a successful and prominent citizen of Atlanta, Georgia, and he maintained a home in Watertown where he and his family spent several weeks each summer. David Woodward died July 16, 1931.
The Foundation received $7,475 from the estate of Harley F. Roberts, who died April 29, 1930. He was a long time master at Taft School and was very active in good works in Watertown.
Representatives of the Scovill and Merriman families gave the Foundation the Community House property in 1942. The building and grounds through the years had been the headquarters of many public groups, which were charged only nominal rents by the civic-minded owners. Among the organizations so favored were the Watertown Civic Union, the Red Cross, the Visiting Nurses Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. The management of this property, which also contained a theatre, stores, bowling alley and a large room for social events, became quite a problem for the Foundation to handle. It was therefore decided to sell the property, which was accomplished in 1950, and from the sale about $60000 was received.
Fletcher W. Judson died November 9, 1955. The Foundation receives a half interest in a trust fund in common with the Waterbury Foundation, and the value of the Watertown Foundation’s share at the time that the trust was created was $39,450. Mr. Judson was an outstanding citizen of our town, notably as a long-time member of the School Board. The Chase Bank dissolved this trust fund in 2006 and the final disbursement to the Watertown Foundation
Through the years the Watertown Foundation has been the recipient of many generous donations and bequests. As a tax-exempt, non-profit community foundation the Foundation identifies, combines and invests the charitable gifts of its members to benefit the community.