Journey through 50 years of history

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 3, 2014

 Orchard Lake City Hall originally was housed in the current Orchard Lake Museum building. This photo was taken Oct. 18, 1961, when Orchard Lake was still a village.

Orchard Lake City Hall originally was housed in the current Orchard Lake Museum building. This photo was taken Oct. 18, 1961, when Orchard Lake was still a village.

Photo provided by Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society


ORCHARD LAKE Residents of the greater West Bloomfield area are invited to bite into a celebratory cake at the city of Orchard Lake Village’s 50th anniversary and the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society’s 40th anniversary bash.

The Civic Celebration will be held at the Orchard Lake Museum and City Hall 1-4 p.m. Sept. 14. Activities will be set up both inside and outside the museum, and an ice cream and cake social will be hosted by the Orchard Lake City Council at City Hall.

According to an Orchard Lake newsletter, prior to 1928, Orchard Lake was part of West Bloomfield Township, and on March 19, 1928 — following a citizen vote — Orchard Lake became a village. Residents of the village then voted to turn the village into a city Dec. 8, 1984. Thus, Orchard Lake became the city of Orchard Lake Village.

City Hall was formerly in the Orchard Lake Museum building, and council meetings were held in the Department of Public Works’ garage, according to Gerry McCallum, director of city services. The current City Hall was built in 1987.

Since Orchard Lake became a city, McCallum said, the city’s notable events include paying off the water and sewer bond early in November, and the ongoing development of the Walgreens at Orchard Lake Road and Pontiac Trail. There are also eight large houses in the city currently under construction.

“To take a city that’s developed and put water and sewer in was a nightmare,” McCallum said. “But it was the best thing we could have done for the community, in terms of environmental.”

The city has managed to maintain a balanced budget, and City Hall has begun upgrading technological devices for City Council members, allowing the council to go nearly paperless, McCallum said.

In the coming months, the Dow Ridge, Indian Trail, Orchard Trail and Shady Beach road projects will begin and are slated to be completed by winter, according to the newsletter.

Journeying through the 40 years of the historical society, the GWBHS will open up the museum and offer a variety of activities during the Civic Celebration, including jugglers, vintage cars, lawn games, an archeological dig box and a presentation by “Voices Across the Lake”  author Anita Pinson.

“We’ll pull out old kitchen tools and things we would have used in the home maybe 50-100 years ago, and those are out to touch and use and experience,” said Pinson, co-chair for the event.

Attendees can dress in vintage clothing and have a picture taken inside a 100-year-old carriage as a souvenir. All of the activities are free, Pinson said.

In its 40 years, the GWBHS has welcomed 30,000 guests,  if you count every person who has attended a historical society event, according to Gina Gregory, president of the GWBHS.

“It’s kind of fun to see the numbers add up over the years, and we provide a nice value to the community, improving the quality of life,” Gregory said.

The society began as the Orchard Lake Scenic and Historical Society Jan. 28, 1974, and in May 1978, the name was changed to the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society.

In 1854, a structure was built in the place of the society’s museum on Orchard Lake Road, and it was later named the Orchard Lake Hotel. The structure was then replaced in 1938 with the current structure, housing Orchard Lake City Hall, according to the GWBHS. When the new Orchard Lake City Hall was established in 1987, the GWBHS was granted use of the building for the Orchard Lake Museum.

Pinson said a Wayside Exhibit, as part of the MotorCities National Heritage Area’s Wayside Exhibit Program, will be installed in front of the museum and a dedicated ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. during the Civic Celebration.

For more information about the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, visit For additional information about the event, call Orchard Lake City Hall at (248) 682-2400.