Cedar Lake, Michigan: Two-Story Outhouse

Double decker dumper, teetering noticeably, alone in the woods. Definitely not for visitor use, even the sure of foot and aim.

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2-story outhouse.

Two-Story Outhouse

I have lived virtually all my life in Cedar Lake. In college I wrote a paper on the two-story outhouse, who built it and why. I researched the subject at the Montcalm County Courthouse and in all of the local libraries and at the Michigan State Library in Lansing, Michigan.

The man who built the home with the two-story outhouse was William Nelson. He owned a prosperous logging company and was first to settle in that neck of the woods. There was a small town about a mile up the road from where he settled, most of which is now gone. It was called Shorter Town. William Nelson platted (did the subdivision of land) and registered the town of Cedar Lake. The current town is not a bit like his platting.

The Nelson home was NEVER a hotel. All my life I was told that it was a hotel, but in my research I didn't find any evidence for this claim. It has been a number of things, i.e. a barrel factory, a honey house and a general store. William Nelson had a general store in the lower part of his building. He also had his office there. The upper part and possibly the back of the building were his family's personal dwelling. As owner of a logging company, Nelson had many men who worked for him. Most were single and were in and out of the store and his office. To keep his seven daughters (he had no sons) apart from the riff-raff of the society they lived around, Mr. Nelson build the two-story outhouse -- the upper story to be used by his family and the lower level to be used by the general public.

The man who owns the house now has not done anything to keep the outhouse in good repair and every year it leans a little more. Every spring I expect it to fall, but as of June, 2005, it is still standing -- like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It has sunk into the ground quite a bit and the top door and the door in the back of the house no longer match up.

[Margie Conner, 06/28/2005]
Two-story Outhouse - A B&B?

Just a line about the two story outhouse in Michigan. I work with the man who now owns the outhouse. It was not connected to the train station as you reported but to a motel which is near the site of the train station. I have seen a picture of the outhouse in its day. It conmected to the hotel via a bridge from the second story of the hotel to the second story of the outhouse.

The bridge collapsed in the 1950's and the outhouse is in need of repairs, but is still standing. We, "his fellow workers," are trying to convince him to convert the old hotel into a art gallery or bed and breakfast, with the outhouse as something to draw visitors.

[Lloyd Medford, 05/06/2001]

Good idea -- lean on that guy until he does the right thing!

Two-story Outhouse

Another two-story outhouse: I went to academy in Cedar Lake, Michigan (between Edmore and Alma, near Saginaw) and one of the only things in that "town" was an old two-story outhouse. I was there last month and it is still standing. When the railroad used to run through that area there was a station at Cedar Lake -- the women's lounge was upstairs and the men downstairs. It was not proper to be near the opposite sex when one needed to go use the restroom. The "plumbing" can still be seen today. A pipe runs from the top outhouse down the outside of the building where it connects with the bottom of the other outhouse on the bottom floor.

[Brandi Johnson, 12/19/1998]

Two-Story Outhouse

7620 N. Academy Rd, Cedar Lake, MI
From US Hwy 127 drive 18 miles west on Hwy 46 to Cedar Lake. Turn south on Academy Rd and it is the second house on the left past Pine Rd. The outhouse is out back.
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