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About Our Community


Humphrey R. Wager, a capitalist from Ionia and Saranac, developed Lake Odessa in 1887 after buying an 80 acre farm through which the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railway was to build a new track to Grand Ledge and Grand Rapids.  The original town, known as Bonanza, was settled slightly north of today's Lake Odessa --- and folded up and moved south when the first train came through in 1888.

Prior to the construction of the new railroad tracks, what is now Lake Odessa was a broad expanse of fertile farm land, and the typical country cross-road was about a mile north of Jordan Lake.  Before the advent of the railway, no one had ever dreamed of Lake Odessa.  Bonanza was the big settlement in this area, and, for that time period, was a bustling industrial center.  It was a strange twist of fate and broadening civilization that in the space of a few years, practically a whole town moved and a corporate village was created in the midst of meadowlands, leaving the original settlement to revert to corn fields.  The principal merchants of Bonanza simply moved buildings, inventory and all, to the new location.

Lake Odessa's name was derived from the two lakes, Tupper Lake and Jordan Lake, and the township within which the Village was incorporated, Odessa Township.  The Township was named by a committee in 1846, hoping to be somewhat exclusive while at the same time, honoring one of Russia's cities.  The committee, chaired by Elder Tupper, undoubtedly endorsed the suggestion of young Myron Tupper, who was a great reader of history and admired Russian lore.

The main street, 4th Avenue, was constructed in 1887, and was nothing but a muddy lane until it was first paved in 1916.  The Lake Odessa Public School was build in 1888, put on an addition in 1896, and was demolished by fire in 1921, after which it was immediately rebuilt.

The Village paid $1,000 for the park property on South Main Street in 1900.  The park remains today in its natural state, with more than two hundred towering maple and beech trees, and a gigantic oak which shed its first leaves when Abraham Lincoln was a young boy.

Over the years, Lake Odessians have always been very proud of their beautiful park, and the public beach at Jordan Lake.  In 1991, over 400 volunteers worked feverishly for five days building the very popular Swifty's Place, in the park, a wooden playground superstructure constructed with enough lumber to build five homes.  The beach at Jordan Lake underwent a quarter million dollar renovation in 1994, using local funds and a DNR grant.

In 1967, the Page Memorial Building was built as a village and township hall, with funds donated by the estate of a successful Lake Odessa businessman, millionaire Frank Page, who inherited the bulk of his fortune from a milk condensing process developed by his father.

The Village of Lake Odessa celebrated its 100th birthday with a year-long centennial.  The historic train depot was moved to a new location to serve as a local museum, and the Village built a 300,000 gallon water tower along with a larger municipal well and iron removal plant.

And, this story ends with the community excited about the new Lakewood Middle School, the Community Library in its new home, and looking towards the street renovations in progress.

 

 

Village of Lake Odessa

Page Memorial Building, 839 Fourth Avenue

Lake Odessa, Michigan  48849

Phone: (616) 374-7110  Fax: (616) 374-0040

Contact the Webmaster at webmaster@lakeodessa.org