Papa, Mama and Baby The Seneca County Courthouse complex, known as the Three Bears, in Ovid in August 2017.

Papa, Mama and Baby The Seneca County Courthouse complex, known as the Three Bears, in Ovid in August 2017. 

The Friends of the Three Bears is an organization that has been around for 14 years. It was started at a point when a lot of people who lived in the Village of Ovid wondered about the future of those historic, iconic structures at the top of the village’s main hill. 

Its placement is important, especially as it pertains to an upcoming event, of which organizers hope captures a lot of attention for the Bears. 

Escape the Courtroom is coming up on Saturday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be three time slots for players of the game to take advantage of. Teams of four to six will work through an escape room experience set at the historic Three Bears Complex, as teams work against the clock to solve various puzzles.

“The courtroom is exactly as it was in 1845,” explained Phyllis Motill. While her husband founded Friends of the Three Bears, it’s an effort that she now leads along with some dedicated members of the community.

Motill said that work on the exterior of the Three Bears has gone a long way to improving the curb appeal of the buildings; however, her focus now is on finding the ways that the property can become a beacon for the community at large in Ovid. 

“Restoration is one thing, but there’s a beautiful park in front and the Ford Memorial Library next door,” Motill added. “This place really has a wonderful opportunity to service the entire community in partnership with the library.”

And it has. 

The Edith B. Ford Memorial Library, located next door to the Three Bears Complex, has undergone its own restoration and expansion in recent months. Now that the construction is completed and the Ford Library has new ways that it can engage with the community through larger event spaces and spaces for added community member usage, staff are looking outward—across the park yard to the Three Bears Complex.

“Events like this are an incredible opportunity for us to combine history and learning for everyone,” Library Director Shannon O’Connor explained. “There’s an opportunity with events like this to learn more about the complex, the library and Ovid’s place in the Seneca County community, too.”

Both Motill and O’Connor agree that this is only the beginning. While the Escape the Courtroom event is the first event slated in the upcoming weeks to take place in partnership between the two entities, it is not the first ever, nor the last. 

“There are going to be a lot more opportunities like this in the future,” Motill said. “The Ford Library has been such a wonderful partner in the community.” She notes that it is bolstering community support through volunteerism and community organizing. 

“Anyone who wants to help should know that they’re building this community if they do,” Motill said. “Giving back through volunteering can be one of the most rewarding ways to show your community you care.”

O’Connor added her voice to that point, noting that without physical community support many of the organizations that vitally service the Ovid community wouldn’t be possible.  

Escape the Courtroom is being made possible by grant funding. O’Connor said that a $25 donation per team to the Bears is encouraged but not required. Anyone interested in signing up a team should call (607) 869-3031 or email


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