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The Spring House

Footprint of Great Bear Springs

According to a 1903 news article, the spring water from the Great Bear Spring wells, was directed and pumped through a cable-supported pipe, across the Oswego River. The water was sent to a bottling plant in Granby which operated for several years. With construction for the NYS Barge Canal planned for the Oswego River section in 1912, the water pipeline would have to be discontinued, due to widening and dredging for the canal.

To supply spring water, locally and nationally, the pump house or more commonly called the Spring House. was built in 1912. The building was designed by Stanley Emerick, the son of Frederick Emerick, founder of Great Bear Spring Water. Stanley, having graduated from Yale Engineering School in 1911, was asked by his father, Frederick, to design and have a pump house built that could supply the spring water.

Rather than a utilitarian pumping station, Stanley had the buildingʼs design done in the style of Italianate architecture. The building was built with a Mediterranean tile roof and exposed decorative corbel ends to the rafters. The interior was finished with a mosaic tile floor and tiled walls. The showpiece was the tiled well that circulated spring water, located in the center of the buildingʼs room.

Replacing the Granby site, a bottling and railroad depot for transferring the spring water was built and located a short distance away on Great Bear Road. The spring water was shipped by tanker cars to bottling sites throughout the northeast. Remnants of the depot building can still be seen.

When the Great Bear property was sold to the City of Fulton, the “Great Bear Spring Pure Water Supply” name and logo were sold to Coca Cola. The name was resold several times, with Nestle presently having ownership.

The Spring House not being used fell into disrepair. In January of 2018, Fernando Araya, Friend, and arborist cut and cleared encroaching trees around the Spring House. In April, Friends of Great Bear, volunteers including Exelon employees cut and cleared brush that surrounded the Spring House area.

With funding from Frederick Emerickʼs granddaughter Helen Emerick Stacy and great-granddaughter Pat Stacy Healey, Friends of Great Bear Jenna Weitzel, several members of Friends of Great Bear and Sunoco Ethanol Facility & Malt House, renovations on the Spring House by Pinnacle Builders were done for the roof, ceiling, entranceway, and windows. Material contributions and labor were provided by Arrow Fence, Universal Metals, and Friends of Great Bear. The series of color photos, show the progression of the 2018-2019 stages for the renovation of the Spring House.


Here is a Slide Show of work done with help from the  Leadership Oswego County volunteer group.