History of Omena Village Preservation Association (OVPA)

In 2002, a group of nine concerned residents joined together to save two historic buildings, located in Omena, Michigan. These buildings had been put on the market and this group of people was worried that developers were interested in purchasing them, demolishing these wonderful old structures and building stacked condominiums…right in the center of this charming little hamlet of Omena.

This group of residents was determined to save these old, historic buildings. They formed the Omena Village Preservation Association (OVPA), dedicated to preserving these two buildings in Omena and this charming, historic town.

In short order, they:

  • Created a Board of Directors
  • Drew up a set of By-Laws
  • Raised money and awareness about the precarious situation in which Omena found itself
  • Obtained two mortgages and bought both buildings!

Mission of OVPA

That is how and why the Omena Village Preservation Association (OVPA) came to be. Its Founders were resolute and unwavering in their determination to establish a way to preserve these buildings and the historic significance of Omena.

They established the Mission of OVPA:

  1. To preserve the charm, beauty and historic nature of the village of Omena.
  2. To purchase, own, maintain and manage selected properties which were important to preserving the character and personality of the village.
  3. To provide educational opportunities for the public in order to help them understand the value of their little, unincorporated village and the need for Omena to be preserved and maintained. In-person lectures and programs were provided over the years. Now, people can learn more about Omena on OVPA’s Facebook page and website (www.omenapreservation.org)

The Board of OVPA applied for and was granted 501(c)3 status from both the IRS and the state of Michigan by 2004.

 

Streetscape of Omena

Three Properties Owned by OVPA

The Omena U.S. Post Office

Omena's Ice Cream Parlor

One of OVPA’s buildings, built in 1857, was originally a family residence, then an ice cream parlor (see photo above) and even a pharmacy before becoming the Omena U.S. Post Office in 1959, more than 100 years after the original Post Office was established. OVPA members volunteered to scrub the Post Office, repaint it, install new wooden flooring in the lobby, polish the brass mailboxes to a beautiful shine and do other significant preservation projects to maintain the building. A new roof was installed, and several other improvements were undertaken, over the years, OVPA even replaced all of the drafty, deteriorating windows, which allowed cold blasts of air to come through and rainwater to leak into the building These old crumbling windows jeopardized the integrity of the entire building.

In accordance with OVPA’s mission, OVPA continues to keep this charming old building, situated in the heart of Omena, in use. The history of the Omena Post Office’s Historic Preservation has been an ongoing labor of love since the Omena Village Preservation Association (OVPA)) was formed 20+ years ago.

The Founders, Boards of Directors, community members, donors and volunteers have all been committed to restoring and maintaining the Post Office and making improvements as issues arose. The over-arching objective has been to keep the building in good condition so that it could remain the home of the United States Post Office for years to come.

Below is a brief list of just some of the projects that the OVPA has completed for the Post Office since OVPA was established in 2002:

  • installed a new roof
  • installed a beautiful new hardwood floor in the lobby
  • repaired and leveled the foundation (by jacking up the building)
  • built a new front fascia
  • applied new interior and exterior paint, replacing many rotting boards when found
  • installed outdoor metal posts sleeved with architecturally appropriate wooden columns
  • installed a new tongue and groove wooden ceiling in the work area for the postmaster
  • upgraded the restroom area for the Postmistress because the room was rotting away
  • scrubbed and polished, to a brilliant shine, all of the original bronze P.O. boxes in the lobby
  • created a beautiful, tiled Tribute Bench, which sits on the front porch, listing supporters
  • installed new attractive landscaping
  • wrote Grant requests to help raise the funds to install new, historically appropriate, custom-built, energy-saving windows.
  • installed these new windows in 2020.

Omena Post Office

In addition, the OVPA installed several important, but less visible, systems that benefited both the Post Office and OVPA’s other property, the historic Anderson House, next door.

OVPA installed:
a new underground sprinkler system
a new well
a new septic system

During 2020-2022 OVPA installed:
new central A/C unit for Post Office

The Post Office truly is the geographic and social heart of Omena. In this small village, there is no home mail delivery service, so each day, residents, merchants, and visitors come to the Post Office to buy stamps, mail packages and letters, or pick up their mail. They usually run into their neighbors doing the same. Greetings are shared, conversations begun and suddenly everyone feels connected. Local news and, possibly, even gossip, is exchanged. There is a very real sense of being part of the community.

The Omena Post Office is the very hub of this community. As people leave the P.O., they have smiles on their faces, even when carrying bills in their hands! When the building is sound and functioning as it should, business can continue as usual. That is why OVPA is diligent about restoring and maintaining this building. The Omena Village Preservation Association Board and members support OVPA’s mission to keep the Post Office and other Omena structures in good shape and useful.

Omena Village Preservation Association Plaque

The Historic Anderson House

The other OVPA building, built in 1883 and saved from demolition in 2002, was the Anderson House which is situated adjacent to the Post Office. Currently, it serves as another beautiful example of how an older building can still be useful. By using these buildings, no new trees need to be cut down to build new buildings. So, it is ecologically sound to maintain these older structures for as long as possible. The Anderson house is also a lovely example of what a merchant-class residence would have looked like in the late 19th century. The bright yellow building in the center of town is the historic Anderson House.

It is a well-preserved rental property which generates some of the funds needed by OVPA to maintain all its buildings. Currently, there are three long-term renters in this house, so it is not available for rent to anyone else at this time.

During 2020-2022 OVPA installed at Yellow House:

  • replacement yard fencing
  • a gas fireplace
  • a new septic holding tank

Saving Another Old Building & Helping the Omena Historical Society

Omena Historical SocietyBack in 2002, when OVPA purchased the Post Office and the Yellow Anderson House, it had also bought a parcel of land adjoining the Yellow House. A large pole barn sat on this piece of land. For about two years, OVPA used it as a storage facility for boats and farm vehicles. Although it was a money-producing pole barn, OVPA agreed to tear it down, and then clear and prepare the land so that the Omena Historical Society (OHS) could relocate its Putnam-Cloud Tower House (which eventually became their Museum) to that parcel. OVPA leased the land for $1 a year for 40 years, to the Omena Historical Society. The building, itself, had been sold to OHS for $1 by the Jesuits who own the Villa Marquette retreat, just south of Omena. The Museum building was moved to this piece of land in 2004, thus enabling OVPA to save another older building from demolition. OVPA also helped to move the building to its new site.