Historic Lake Orion


The Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority announced in 2006 the approval of Lake Orion’s first National Register Historic District. Listing on the National Register of Historic Places can raise property value and add a new level of pride in one’s community.  Both commercial and residential property owners can benefit from tax credits based on property renovations or improvements made according to criteria established by the Department of the Interior.

In addition, renovation of commercial historic properties are eligible for federal tax credits, if criteria is met.  The project was a collaborative effort, the majority of which was funded by the Downtown Development Authority and Orion Township, with some additional money coming from the Orion Historical Society.

A Moment in Time

historic sign series by the lake orion historical society

Hanson’s Running Shop

Formerly Van Wagoner’s Drug Store, Faye’s Fabric, Mitchell’s Drug Store


In place of the building housing Faye’s Fabrics (formerly Van Wagoner’s Drug Store) was a wooden structure known as the Commercial Hotel.  The building in which Ramona’s Beauty Salon is presently located was the place of business of Isaiah Bradford, the first undertaker in Orion.  He arrived in Orion in 1840, and his residence still stands on the northwest corner of Jackson street and North Broadway.
Courtesy -Orion Since 1818
The first movie was brought to the Orion area by Jerry Bartholomew in 1913 to the Lincoln Theater, was the site of Lindner’s Colorland TV store and now Builders Custom Flooring.  According to Elmer Bartholomew, his son, many Westerns were shown at the Lincoln, with the William Tell Overture constituting background music for these early silent films.  The Lincoln was built by Albert Ostrum.
Mitchell’s Drug Store later became Van Wagoner’s at 3 South Broadway Street now Hansons Running Shop in Downtown Lake OrionChuck Mitchell later on had a pharmacy in downtown Oxford.

Ed’s Broadway

Formerly J.C. Predmore Building, Griggs 

Joshua C. Predmore was a successful farmer who organized the Orion State Bank with Ira Carpenter in 1896. Predmore was the Orion Township clerk when he died in 1912. He was a Civil War veteran and was on guard duty the night that at the White House the night that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

J.C. Predmore building advertised “Dealer in dry goods, groceries, crockery, glassware, Yankee notions.” (see picture) Built in 1903. Prior to that, it was built on a frame of an 1878 building by Lanson Predmore that burned in 1902. The building last occupied by Sagebrush Cantina before it burnt down in 2004. A 1902 fire destroyed everything between the hotel and Griggs. -Courtesy Images of America

“Orion’s prominent position as a farming center was not diminished by its emergence as a resort. Figures for the week ending October 20, 1887, show that J. C. Predmore and Company shipped 5,700 bushels of potatoes and 1,000 bushels of rutabagas, requiring 14 freight cars. Ira Carpenter shipped 2,200 bushels of rutabagas during that same period.”  

Courtesy Orion Since 1818 by Paul m Scott

313 Pizza Bar

Formerly Orion Fire Hall

In 1881, homes and business places, alike, were illuminated by kerosene lamps.  In case of fire, an alarm was sounded from the church belfry and the citizens formed a fire brigade with pails, tin buckets, etc. and as they were wholly unorganized, the fire usually had its way.  Each family had its pump and there was no inside plumbing.

Major fires in the business district occurred in 1862, 1871, 1874, 1883, 1894, 1901, 1902, and 1910. Early village records were destroyed in the numerous fires which plagued the area and it was difficult to determine what development was first a part of Orion and what was a part of New Canandaigua. 

Disaster hit the Village in 1874, when fire once again leveled the business district.  The entire block, with the exception of the Shurter house was burned.  Railroad cars were loaded with building supplies and shipped from Detroit, enabling the village to make a quick recovery.

Until 1915, the village had no water works.  At that time, a water tower and new well for more adequate fire protection was added and water lines and hydrants expanded up until 1930. After the fire of 1910, a new gasoline fire engine was purchased and the first local fire company was organized.  Fire fighters were to receive pay when they worked.  Eleven local men were hired.

The water tower was taken down in 1994 and the underground well was disconnected at the same time.

The 2nd floor of this building was also home to the Lake Orion Library from 1926-1940. It was established by the Lake Orion Women’s Club in 1926.

Verwood Apartments

Formerly Park Hotel

Below are the approximate dates of the multiple names for the building now known as the Verwood:

  • 1880-1882 Cataract House
  • 1884 Swift House
  • 1901 Hotel Taylor
  • 1908-1931 Park Hotel
  • 1930’s Orion Hotel
  • 1940’s Varadee Hotel (briefly)
  • 1950’s Verwood Hotel
  • 1983 Renovated to Verwood Apartments

The State Theater was located at 102 S. Broadway just south of the Verwood where the new Bitter Tom’s Distillery and apartments are located. Originally it was an auto dealership. The seat count was approx. 350. It closed in 1958 and repurposed in 1962 as a youth center and for civic events. Later on the building housed a bar for 25 years.

This southwest view of Broadway from 1958 shows the Verwood Bar


The State Theater was located at 102 S. Broadway just south of the Verwood where the new Bitter Tom’s Distillery and apartments are located.


Fork n’ Pint

Formerly Milliman Ford



Earl Milliman served 32 years as a Ford dealer. He developed the Indianwood Shores subdivision, where he lived, and a restaurant in Ann Arbor. There were many dealership options in our area like; Chevy, Buick, Dodge, Oldsmobile and Ford). Checkout these historical ads below!

To See Lake Orion’s Historic District application:

Lake Orion Historic District Application