Frank A. Empsall[edit | edit source]Watertown merchant best known as the founder of Empsall's Department Store.
Empsall was a dry goods merchant in North Adams, Massachusetts when he purchased the Roth Dry Goods Store in the newly constructed Rothstock (Brighton) Building on Court Street in 1907. Empsall then sold all of his business interests in North Adams and moved permanently to Watertown. Empsall closed the Roth Store and after several months of renovations, opened Empsalls Department Store, which became an immediate success. Empsall later expanded his mercantile interests by taking ownership of several neighboring business on Court Street, including the Samuel Felt Drug Company and the Scott Brothers Men's Clothing and Furniture Store.
Watertown Chamber of Commerce. An avid automobile enthusiast, Empsall served as president of the Watertown Automobile Club, and was founder of the Jefferson County Automobile Club. Empsall was an advocate for road improvement and he himself donated large sums of money to help improve city roads for automobile travelers.
Frank Empsall died in 1929 in New York City from surgical complications. He was interred in Brookside Cemetery.
The Empsall logo was featured in the 1990 Bette Midler film Stella, which was set (although not filmed) in Watertown. Empsalls Department Store operated until the early 1990's, when it became, along with many downtown businesses, one of the casualties of the extended retail development that occurred on outer Arsenal Street. Empsall remains the namesake of Empsall Plaza, the 1911 extension he built for his store behind the Rothstock Building.