Midway Lake Outdoor Club was a 125-acre farm with club house on Route 322 east of Windsor in Orwell Township in southwestern Ashtabula County. Marvin and Georgie Rutherford, both originally from Georgia, traveled each summer in the 1950s with other couples to Idlewild, a famed Black resort on a small lake located about forty miles east of Lake Michigan. With two other couples, they bought land three miles east of Windsor and created a lake as a centerpiece for their envisioned retreat. Opened in 1956, Midway Lake offered horseback riding, fishing, swimming, picnicking, and games, as well as lakeside cabins and a hall that organizations could rent. The Glenville couple also started a moving business, a logical progression from Marvin Rutherford’s previous work as a truck driver for a coal company. Midway Lake soon became the summer home of the Outhwaite Sportsmen’s Club, which used the Portland-Outhwaite Recreation Center for skeet and trap shooting during the winter months. The shooting club, organized in 1945, was among few Black organizations in the U.S. belonging to the National Rifle Association (NRA). It had previously used Locust Farm/Alexander Farm for pigeon shooting. Midway Lake stayed open until the Rutherfords closed it in 1985.
- Baranick, Alana. “Creating a Haven of Their Own; Georgie Rutherford Helped Build an Ohio Resort for Blacks.” The Plain Dealer. March 1, 2004.
- Display Ad 7 – No Title. Call & Post. April 10, 1965.
- “Future Outlook League Plans State Picnic.” Call & Post. July 13, 1957.
- “Marvin Rutherford.” 1940 U.S. Census, Cleveland Ward 19, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, E.D. no. 92-484.
- “Outhwaite Sportsmen Host To Gun Clubs.” Call & Post. August 8, 1959.
- Stephens, Ronald J. Idlewild: The Rise, Decline, and Rebirth of a Unique African American Resort Town. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.
- Walker, Lewis. Black Eden: The Idlewild Community. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2002
- White, Maurice. “People You Should Meet.” Call & Post. July 20, 1963.
2 thoughts on “Midway Lake”
As a little girl, I remember going to MidWay Lake. One of my brothers was married to the owner’s daughter, Marion Rutherford. My brother Harry I. Johnson used to grill the ribs, burgers, steaks and pork chops all day long. They had pony and horse back riding. I loved going to Midway Lake.
I was born in Akron, Ohio in 1955. I remember some of your findings. My parents moved from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh, PA between 1948 to 1950 next to Cleveland, Ohio in 1951 then they moved to Akron, Ohio in 1952 finally settling in Akron, Ohio from 1952 to 2002. We (my family) have a lot of history in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Thank you for the Green Book Cleveland.