The concrete building on Vining Street has a fascinating history.  Thought to be a lodge hall for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a tour of the interior tends to confirm that. As you enter from the street, you find a large room with a stage at the south end of it.  A performer could mount the steps of the stage unseen through a back hallway with an outside door.  On the west wall is a blackboard with hooks above it where jackets could be hung.  The second floor opens onto a large area that could have been used for social occasions.  A piano, with a few keys that still work, sets against the east wall.  High on the north wall is a symbol—the same one used by the Odd Fellows today.  An area off the main room to the south could have been a place to serve refreshments.  Then there is the coffin.  Click here to learn more about the coffin.

The building, and house next door, recently changed hands.  Formerly owned by Vicki Ruiz, it now has a new owner.

Most Clark Lakers have come to know Annette Fink through her work.  She is the person who designed the Welcome to Clark Lake sign on North Lake Road near Grand Boulevard.  Annette and her team high-fired each colorful clay piece which adorn the sign.  On the Spirit Trail side will be names of donors who have helped this path around the lake a reality. 

The sign is not Annette’s first artistic endeavor.  Toledoans enjoy her downtown mural at Jackson and 14th Street, and a new one was unveiled most recently in Perrysburg.   For a while now, a group of like-minded ladies meets for clay night on Thursdays at the home Annette and her husband, Kevin, built in Pierces Bay six years ago.  The group works on creative projects, including this Spirit Trail pole that was auctioned off on behalf the Clark Lake Community Center at the Harvest Moon fundraiser in October, 2019. 

Armida and Trav Pearse made the winning bid for the Spirit Pole

Annette and Kevin recently purchased the Vining Street property.  Says Annette, “when I saw this building, I knew in my heart it could be so much more.”  The building is showing its many years of age, and will require extensive renovation.  Like many artists, Annette has a strong sense of vision.  “I’d like this to be a place where clay night and other art happens at the lake.”  The size is perfect for studio applications.  The Welcome to Clark Lake sign required a large room, and Annette had to go to Sylvania to find one. The open space and room for needed equipment make the Vining Street location perfect. 

  • Framed photo
  • The stage--later used by Irwin Bloom as a work bench
  • What song was last played on this piano?
  • Second floor with IOOF symbol on north wall
  • Stairway to second floor, guarded by ???
  • Blackboard on first floor, west wall

More than that, she says “preserving this piece of Clark Lake history, and restoring it for future generations is the goal.  Using the space as an art studio, and having fun there, is a bonus.”  

Vining Street is also known as the Clark Lake Village, or as originally named, the Village of Clark’s Lake.  As such, the Village played a key role in Clark Lake’s development.  “That makes it such a special location,” notes Annette.  A train station once stood at the west end of the street.  Those wishing to escape the sweltering heat of summer from points south would arrive on the Cincinnati-Northern.  Once disembarking, a horse-drawn cart would transport them to a waiting steamer at the dock, just on the other side of Hyde Road.  The eventual destination might be hotels at Pleasant View or Eagle Point, or a rental cottage on the lake.   A visitor might spend a night or two at the Vining Street hotel across from the building.  Now a private residence, it is just east of the house that burned in December.

The history of the Clark Lake Village doesn’t stop there.  Vining Street was also the location of Clark Lake’s first post office.  At one time located in the train station, it moved next to Hopp’s Lakeside Grocery. In the early 1960s, the post office once again moved, this time, to its present location next to Doyle’s. 

The Village also had a connection to Clark Lake’s early phone system.  It operated from the house at the west end of the street, on the north side.   To read about Hyde Road’s past, click here for a college student’s term paper about it, written in 1947.  Includes photos.

Annette comments “Vining Street deserves more credit than it gets, and we look forward to getting to know our neighbors.”    

Here’s a 1937 tracing of the original plat map.  It’s framed and can be seen with other historical maps and antiquities on the walls of the Clark Lake Community Center.  On March 13, 2002, Chris Millican and Mike McKay donated it to the Community Center.  The Community Center’s goal is to preserve Clark Lake’s past. 

 The map also bears a written description.  Since it is hard to read, here is the transcribed text:

Know all men by these presents, that we Charles F. Vining as proprietor and Nancy O. Vining his wife have caused the land embraced in the annexed plat and here in offer described to be surveyed laid out and platted to be known as Village of Clark’s Lake Jackson County Michigan, and that the streets and alleys as shown on said plat are hereby dedicated to the use of the public which said land so embraced in said annexed plat is described as follows to wit: being a part of the sections 17 and 18 in Town 4 South Range I East, and commencing of a point twenty two and six tenths (22 6/10) feet west and thirteen hundred twenty five and one half (13325 1/2) feet north of the shout east corner of said section eighteen, running thence S 89° 53′ W two hundred thirty six and one half (236 1/2) feet thence N 6° 25′ W seven hundred seventy nine and one half (779 1/2) feet thence N 89° 53′ E five hundred twenty seven and sixty three one hundredths (527 63/100) feet, thence S 8° 12′ E five hundred thirty four and three tenths (534 3/10), thence S 11° 53′ W one hundred thirty six and six tenths (136 6/10) feet, thence along north line of cemetery N 89°40′ W two hundred fifty two and three fourths (252 3/3) feet, thence along west line of cemetery S 0° 20′ W one hundred fourteen and eight tenths (114 8/10) feet, to the place of beginning.

In witness whereof the said Charles F. Vining and Nancy O. Vining, his wife, have hereunto set their hands and seals this 25th day of April 1896.

Signed and sealed,

Charles F. Vining
Nancy O. Vining

[then follows certifications by the notary and Register of Deeds, Jackson County. Included is this statement from the surveyor]:

I hereby certify that the plat heron delineated is a correct one and that permanent monuments consisting of iron pipe [lond?] 1 1/4 inches in diameter and from 36 to 48 inches long  have been planted at points marked cd thus (o) as thereon shown at all angles in the boundaries of the land platted and of all intersections of streets or streets and alleys.

Wm Fargo  

The Vining’s headstones can be found in the Clark Lake Cemetery.