The Spring House
The venerable Spring House is a well-known landmark, just inside the Pittsford town line on Monroe Ave. One of the area's oldest businesses, the grand edifice has a rich and colorful history.
Joseph Tousey of Pittsford built the Springhouse in 1822 (although some records indicate 1829 or 1830). It took its name from the famed Monroe Mineral Springs, then situated on what is now Oak Hill Country Club's golf course. The lovely edifice served as a hostel to accommodate visitors and guests who came by stage or Erie Canal packet boat to take the water of the spa, as was the fashion of the day and they remained to enjoy the restful surroundings.
The front of the building, which we now consider the rear, faced a landing from the old Erie Canal. Packet boats would unload passengers to enjoy the waters and food and libations and then board a boat for their return trip.
Tousey built his four-story brick mansion with timbers that were hand-hewn and the pillars of solid white pine were turned by a Captain Patchen. Many fine native woods were used in the framing and the interior trim of oak, hickory, pine, beech, and ash. The stairs leading to upper floors are of mahogany, with curly maple newels and spindles of cherry.
A special feature of the old ballroom in the third story is the spring floor. Many past patrons mistakenly trace the origin of the name "Spring House" to this curiosity. It is understood that dancing was made more enjoyable when the floor responded to the rhythms. Another interesting phenomenon was the thunder room, which occupies the center of the top story. It is a room without windows or skylights. Patrons who were frightened of the fierce thunderstorms, which crashed around the exterior, occupied this room. They remained in this room until the storm passed or their libations made them feel less fearful! Nine original log-burning fireplaces enlivened the various rooms of this hospitable establishment and fourteen outside doors testify to its design for ease and gracious living.
Deeds show a Mr. Norton followed Tousey as owner of this resort, the only one near the growing Rochesterville in those early days. The completion of the Erie Canal made what once was a small "huddle of huts" into the country's first boom town and the community of Pittsford was happy to let Rochester surpass it in size.
The Spring House was subsequently sold to A.C. Wheeler. Later the business passed its proprietorship to Joseph Hall, who also bred trotting horses and trained them on a half-mile track on what is now Allen's Creek Road. It is difficult to visualize that whole area without homes or buildings or Oak Hill Country Club and just be fields, which would sustain horses and a racetrack.
The building was carefully remodeled and restored in 1940 under the patient and careful planning of owners, Anna Stubbs and Anne Colberg. The two women set a superior table and restored the old house to its former charm and richness as a setting to match their culinary art. The decorative scheme was retained by use of wallpaper, curtains and hangings.
The Brighton-Pittsford town line once ran right through the Springhouse during the early days of Prohibition. Pittsford had voted no license for "spirits" so the intrepid proprietor, Pat Hackett, moved the bar to the extreme west end of the building so that it was located in Brighton and he could sell whiskey. Also under Mr. Hackett's ownership, there was a much publicized robbery attempt, during which Hackett was severely wounded. A framed newspaper account of this event hangs on the wall at the bottom of the stairs leading to the dining rooms.
The Springhouse was carefully remodeled and restored in 1940 under the patient and careful planning of the owners, Anna Stubbs and Anne Colberg. The two women set a superior table and restored the old house to its former charm and richness. The decorative scheme was retained using wallpaper, curtains and hangings as a setting to match their culinary art.
The O'Neill family took over the ownership in 1959 and retained that reputation as an establishment that offered fine dining. The décor was that of a southern mansion and the menu was varied with traditional meals as well as favorites such as fresh fruit plates and Welsh rarebit. The Spring House sold again to Buckingham Properties who passed the management and most recent renovation to Bruce Condemi in 2000.
In early 2001, Buckingham obtained permission from the Town to subdivide the property into a number of retail shops. The construction began in winter of 2003 and absorbed much of the former parking for the Spring House restaurant. Spring House Commons has been built in what was the parking lot and a number of upscale retail stores have become occupants.
The Spring House itself (in April 2005) is still vacant and the owners are looking for the right person and use of this venerable old building. Many dollars are needed to remodel so a new proprietor and the future of the Spring House is unknown at this time.