Thursday, June 25, 2009

EMU Overlooks Magical Mystery Well in Preservation Award

EMU has just won an award for preserving the several historic buildings on its campus.

Now all they need to do is to bring back Tubal Cain Owen's magical curative water well, which he called "Atlantis." Its gigantic wooden derrick once towered above the spot where the old Roosevelt High School now stands on EMU's campus.

Tubal Cain Owen was not a man to do anything by half-measures. When he drilled for water and struck a vein of smelly reddish-brown liquid of questionable ingestibility, did he drill elsewhere? No! He marketed the heck out of it! Owen sold his water across the nation as a life-giving elixir--even as a cancer cure. It was Ypsilanti's golden age of dubious curative water, just shy of the turn of the century.

But the glowing testimonials festooning Owen's miracle beverage withered away with the 1906 Pure Food Act. Also, "local residents complained of the yelling of the patients at Owen's house of healing so the state condemned the property, claiming that the sanitarium posed “a serious menace to the social life of the Normal College,” allowing it to then “acquire” the land for the college's use. The Roosevelt Building was constructed on the site of the former Owen home as a high school for teacher training."


Dusty D said...

One thing Owen did right, as any peruser of the Archives can see, was to hire good graphic designers. His labels and ads, for his disgusting skunk-water, are beautiful, elaborate, and frilly. Thankfully, a good number of them have been preserved for you to take a peek if you like.

Fritz said...

The derrick looks strangely like it's growing out of a shed. I think I'd just nail walls to the bottom of the derrick, build some sort of roof over the inside of that space, and be done with it. But I looks like someone build a perfectly normal shed or house, with the legs of the derrick projecting seamlessly from the roof. Weird.

Al said...

If you would like to read more about Tubal Owens see the Fall 2006 issue of the Gleanings:

Dusty D said...

What an honor that you are stopping by. Thank you, and thank you for the great link!

I think a whole book could be written about Mr. Owen. In every scrap I read about him, he certainly appears to be quite the character.

Dusty D said...

Fritz: You are right; when you click on the photo and blow it up, indeed the legs of the derrick are coming right out of the roof. I imagine the shed was built to protect the pumping machinery...perhaps they needed more space than just under the derrick.