July 1989

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About this Issue

Note from the Editors

Two famous attractions of Lake Keuka: the steamboat, Mary Bell, and the Grove Springs Hotel at Wayne are featured in this issue. The launching and the first runs of the Mary Bell are related in a series of extracts from 1892 issues of the Hammondsport Herald. The story about the Grove Springs was written from old newspaper accounts. They don't always agree on dates or names.

In a newspaper account of February 4, 1971, Alderman F. Gleason, a native of Wayne and a student of local history, said that three men from Corning, Coulogue, Cartright, and Blossom, acting through an agent, Col. Moore, purchased Riker's Hollow on the east side of Keuka Lake from John Bailey. They changed the name to Grove Springs with the intention of developing a mineral water spa there.

Gleason wrote that the hotel was built in 1869 and that Stephen Moore was the first manager. A promotional story about the Grove Springs House, signed by Stephen Moore, appeared in the first issue of the Hammondsport Herald, April 28, 1874. Evidently, he was still in charge of the hotel then. He enumerates the features of Lake Keuka and the Grove Springs House.

A report of the history of the Grove Springs Hotel appeared in the Hammondsport Herald after the fire of December 10, 1915, that consumed the building. This account stated that the original Grove Springs Hotel was built in 1847 by two businessmen from Hammondsport, J. N. Crane and J. W. Davis. Here again, Moore was listed as the first manager when the house opened in 1869. Perhaps the date of 1847 was meant to be 1867. This article said that a man named Cleveland succeeded Moore and was, in turn, followed by three men: John W. Conlogue of Kansas City, a former superintendent of the Chicago and Alton Railroad; H. H. Courtright of Chicago, the general freight agent of the Chicago and Alton; and Mr. Blossom, a hotel man from Kansas City. This account said they spent $75,000 on enlarging and improving the hotel in 1881. The Fuller brothers of Corning were the first managers of the remodelled hotel, according to the Herald report.

The newspaper accounts of the changes in management of the hotel do not always clearly distinguish who were the actual owners of the Grove Springs and who may have been either hired managers or lessees of the property.

C. W. Drake, president of the Bath Hammondsport Railroad and the Lake Keuka Navigation Company, bought Grove Springs in 1894 or 1895 to complement the railroad and steamboat ventures. Drake further enlarged and extensively renovated the hotel. The lawns were improved with fountains, pools, and outdoor lights. Even a boardwalk was built along the beach to his own cottage about one half mile up the shoreline. In the business panic of 1907 Drake sold the railroad and the boat lines to the Erie Railroad. Later John Bertram, who had managed the hotel for several years, bought it in 1914. On December 10, 1915, the next year, the main building burned.

Bertram attempted to move the dance pavilion that was near the lake shore onto the site of the burned hotel but gave up when a workman was killed in an accident. Several other buildings that were part of the property did not burn and are now private cottages.

The information about Grove Springs was furnished by Donald A. Rowland who is historian for the Town of Wayne, and by Richard Sherer, who is historian for the Town of Urbana and for Steuben County. The newspaper accounts of the launching and first trial of the steamboat, Mary Bell, and the pictures of the Mary Bell and of the Grove Springs Hotel are from Dick Shearer's large collection.

The letter from Margaret Hallett Lang to Mrs. Howard Warren was furnished by Don Rowland from his files.

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