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Floyd Ingraham's Springwater: The story behind the book, part 3

(This post has no pictures or information on Floyd Ingraham, but is a 'rabbit trail' I took during one of my many visits to the Springwater area. I hope you enjoy the journey!)


I stayed at The Mission at Conesus, New York, during my first visit to the Springwater area. It is a very interesting property and I had fun researching it.


In 1872, the first Catholic Bishop of Rochester, New York, purchased 527 acres of land near Hemlock Lake. He created a farm and vineyard. After his death in 1809, the land was turned over to the Society of the Divine Word, an order of missionary priests. In 1936 ground was to build what became St. Michael's Mission House.



From Communities of the Word - The Conesus Story 1924-1984 by Mr. John Morgan


On September 6, 1936, a community of about 15 men of the Society of the Divine Word came to the foundation and blessed the cornerstone. One of those men was Friar Fridolin Iten.


The Mission was a place of retreat and respite for priests. It has been called St. Bernard's Mission, St. Michael's Mission House and the Divine Word Seminary. The name St. Michael's Mission House has been commonly used by residents and a 19th century statue of St. Michael stood at the entrance for many years. It was purchased and removed in 2003 by Kelly Schultz Antiques in Clarence, New York.


During his time at The Mission house, Fridolin Iten created grottos meant for worship. The grotto called The Grotto of Agony was built with a garden nearby. It marked the stations of the cross but not much of it is standing or easily accessible. Some reports say there was also a grotto in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes, but I wasn't able to determine where it was located during my visit. The grotto I explored was the Rosary Grotto. Built into the hillside near The Mission, it was crafted with stone, handcrafted artistic murals, statues and tiles.


Photographs taken in the 1980s and 90s are available if you do a Google search for St. Michael's Mission Grottos. Here is the Rosary Grotto as I found it in 2019:














Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by me.

Please do not use without permission. Thank you.


In 1985 the Catholic Dioses of Rochester, New York, removed anything of value including much of the statues and religious artifacts. Very little remains. What was left has fallen into disrepair. But there is enough to see what Friar Fridolin Iten's vision must have been and the quiet, worshipful experience it offered to the people who visited the grottos.


Interestingly enough, years after Fridolin Iten lived and worked at The Mission, his great nephew also lived there. Joseph Iten and his family were responsible for reviving and keeping the vineyards for a time.


The Mission on Hemlock Lake in Conesus, New York, was sold in 1985 to an evangelical Christian group and sold again decades later. It now operates as an airbnb.


I loved the views and the interesting building, but most of all I loved the grottos. Although I encountered a patch of poison ivy and felt a shiver down my spine once or twice, this was an adventure I won't soon forget!


To read my next post in this series about what brought me to Springwater, New York and the story behind the book I wrote, go here.


#historydetective

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