The base, a huge piece of red granite from the Bay of Fundy Quarries, transported by schooner from Maine to New York City and from there by railway cars, arrived at the Erie Depot in May 1888. It was 12 feet in diameter, 2 ½ feet thick and weighed over 15 tons, and the unloading and moving it up Court Street attracted scores of spectators. The fountain, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, a preeminent American architect, is surmounted by a large bronze bear, the work of the French sculptor Antoine Barye. Water for the fountain was piped from Hartman Springs, on a farm about 2 miles east of the village on Groveland Road. The pipes, along with the fountain, were given to the village by the Wadsworths.
At the formal presentation, W.A. Wadsworth was specific in stating that “the fountain shall always be supplied with pure water, from the present springs, so long as they afford a supply, then from the next available source.” This unique memorial has continued as a prized landmark.
The shaft has been repaired at least twice since its dedication. Unsightly traffic lights were installed on the fountain in the 1930’s and in 1968 directions and stop signs were placed around it. All were removed in 1976 due in large part to the weight of public opinion.