Watertown civic leader and investor James B. Wise began a company to manufacture plumbing fixtures with a brass foundry and a store to sell the fixtures. The complex was located on the now-vacant land at the Northwest corner of Mill Street and Main Ave (later the site of Wilbur's Discount City).
The brass foundry was later used as part of another J.B. Wise venture--making large- and small-caliber ammunition for European combatants in what eventually became World War I. On Christmas Eve, 1918, six workers loading artillery shells were killed and 19 injured in an explosion.