Otsego Area Historical Society
218 N. Farmer St., Otsego, Michigan 49078 ~ Phone: 269.692.3775

oahs@otsegohistory.org

Otsego is located in SW lower MI
Museum Location / Map


Historic Otsego Tour

 

This tour is an introduction to several interesting and historic features of the City of Otsego.  It is hoped that as you walk or drive through the city, the evidence of past architectural and historical influences will be recognized.  Please respect the privacy of the homeowners as the houses are not open to the public and should be viewed from the sidewalk or street.  

This online tour is an enhanced version of the "Historic Otsego Walking Trail"
brochure completed in 2001 by the Otsego Walking Trail Committee in conjunction
with the Allegan County Heritage Trail project.  Research and text provided by Ed
Goodsell and Ryan Wieber.

Photographs for this page were provided by John Stempien.

1

Adventist Church-South Farmer Street

The Adventist Church building on South Farmer Street was completed
in 1867, and looks nearly the same as it did when first constructed.
Otsego became recognized as a center of Seventh-Day activity in the early twentieth century.  A complex of Adventist buildings erected on the west part of Otsego included an Academy, boys and girls dormitories, and a farm.  In 1863 in Otsego, Adventist 
Ellen White received a vision from God on the importance of healthy eating and maintaining physical fitness.  Her vision and resulting message later influenced the thinking of many, including John H. Kellogg, the inventor of the first Kellogg cereals.

2

The David Morse House-117 W. Franklin Street

The Congregational minister, Reverend David Morse built this Greek Revival house in the late 1850's.  Harry Johnson, a former city clerk, lived in this house for several years.

3

The Herman Jungnitch House-218 Kalamazoo Street
Many of Otsego's houses were moved from one site to another but this on may have set a record for distance.  It was moved from Pine Creek to Otsego in 1902.  This house was built around 1900 for  Herman Jungnitch but a power dam was later built that would flood the area.  Mr. Jungnitch sold the house to John Engles, who then had it moved to its present location.

4

The DeLano House-209 West Orleans Street
This house does not appear on the 1873 plat map of Otsego, but shows up on the 1880 Birds-Eye view of Otsego.  Noah Bryant and his family lived here for many years beginning in the 1890's.  Mr. Bryant was an associate of George Bardeen, owner of the Bardeen Paper Mill.  The George DeLano family lived here in the early to mid-1900's.

5

The Lucy Travis House-265 West Allegan Street
Wilson C. Edsell bought this lot in 1849 and had this house built the next year.  With pilaster moldings and an east wing with a columned portico, this house is typical of the Greek Revival style of architecture found prevalent in Michigan during that time.  Lucy Travis bought the house in 1886 and lived there for many years.

6

The French House-451 West Allegan Street

This house was built in 1855, and is another example of Otsego Architecture influenced by the national trend of portraying Greek symbolism into American life.  The symmetry of the upper windows, along with it's hipped roof and side pilasters combine to give this house a solid presence alongside West Allegan Street.  At one time it had a cupola atop the roof.  For many years it was owned by Carrie and E.J. French.

7

The C.D. Parkhurst House-506 West Allegan Street

City tax records indicate this house existed as early as 1843.  Its original owner, C.D. Parkhurst, was a local merchant, and at one time the town clerk and tax assessor.

8

The Joseph Stratton House-444 West Allegan Street

In 1898 Mr. Stratton, who had just completed two terms as Allegan County Sheriff, bought this lot on West Allegan Street for $265.00 and had the house and barn erected.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Stratton were from pioneer families.  The barn is one of very few left in the city.

9

Otsego's Riverfront
Historical Photos of North Farmer Street
Lumber mills, grist mills, wagon shops, the Otsego Chair Factory, and even a hoe factory lined both sides of the river.  In the 1870's, folks came from all over the Midwest to rejuvenate their ailing bodies in the "medicinal" waters at the Otsego Mineral Springs Bath House.  The Mineral Springs had difficulty staying in business after George Bardeen and a group of investors brought the first paper mill to Otsego in 1887.  The Bardeen Mill was located where Menasha is today.  Part of the Bardeen Building is still standing, and one of the machines is still in use.  The mill drastically lowered the level of the spring water, rendering the Mineral Springs Bath House useless.

10

The Sprague House-118 West River Street
Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Sprague built their new home in 1869 and they selected a lot in The Highlands at 118 West River Street.  By the time the Sprague's' great-grand-daughter Marian Minnis died in 1973, the house had been occupied continuously by the Sprague's or their descendants.

11

The J.M. Ballou House-106 Prospect Street
In the early years of Otsego's growth many people thought the best residential area was north of the river, so when in 1869 James Ballou decided to build a new home, he selected The Highlands for a site.  This house, located at 106 Prospect Street, looks nearly the same as it did when originally built.  Born in Ohio, Ballou came to Michigan and graduated from the State Normal School in 1862.  He arrived in Otsego the same year to become principal of the high school.  He later became the county superintendent of schools and eventually was president of the state board of education.

12

Water Works Building-North Farmer Street
Built in 1907, this structure was the first water plant building for the city.  The thin island in the river behind this building at one time held "Island Park", a beautiful city park complete with trails, benches and a gazebo.  The park closed due to excessive flooding in the 1920's.  In 2004 this building was been completely renovated and is the home of the Otsego Area Historical Society.

13

The Methodist Church-223 East Allegan Street
Organized as a congregation in Otsego in 1842, the Methodists moved into this church building in December 1889.  Charles Prentiss, a local businessman and former mapmaker for General Sherman during the Civil War, designed the plans for the church, which cost $7,500 to build.

14

The John King/Sam Simpson House-313 East Allegan Street
Mr. King was one of the men who came to Otsego with George Bardeen to establish a paper-mill.  Mr. King had this house built around 1887.  In 1895, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Simpson bought the house and lived there for many years.  Mr. Simpson was the "Sim" of the Mac Sim Bar paper mill.

15

The Thompson House-319 East Allegan Street
Featured in Oxford's Buildings of Michigan, this house reflects the cross-plan style of Allegan architect Charles Caskey,  who went on to design summer cottages in Harbor Springs and Mackinac Island.

16

The Pierce-Dorgan House-320 East Allegan Street
This Sears catalog house arrived in two box cars in 1913, for Howard Pierce, a local grocer.  He sold the house to Tom and Jo Dorgan in the early 1960's.  

17

The Cloud-Pierce House-217 East Orleans Street
This fine Italianate house was built in 1869 for John Cloud, a hardware merchant.  Marshall Pierce lived there for many years in the 1900's.  

18

The Gorham Sherwood House-208 South Fair Street
Mr. and Mrs. Gorham Sherwood built this house in 1883.  Gorham's career paralleled that of his brother Eber.  They were known locally as "The Sherwood Brothers."

19

The Eber Sherwood House-124 East Orleans Street
In 1883, this Queen Anne style house was built for Mr. and Mrs. Eber Sherwood.  Mr Sherwood was born in a log house south of Otsego, and rose to prominence as a merchant and financier.  In the 1880's and 1890's many Queen Anne's or "Victorian" houses were built in Otsego.  They feature steep-pitched roofs, gables, towers and turrets, and ornamental shingles, moldings and fanciful chimneys.  Notice the decorative trim around the windows and the turret on the northeast side of this house.

 

Otsego Area Historical Society 2003-2012