|History of Lake Venita|
People came for miles around for the April 3, 1908, dedication of Mulvill Lake, now known as Lake Venita. The lake was built in 1907-08 on land owned by John Kirkpatrick and John McBurney. The contract was let in the fall of 1907, and the dedication, planned by the Hustlers' Club and Odessa citizens, was held prior to the actual completion of the lake. The lake was built by the Mulvill Construction Company of Alton, IL, and was christened with the company's name. Later it was named Lake Venita in honor of Kirkpatrick's niece.
When the lake was built, no one knew that someday a state highway would pass nearby. The Parker family home was on land that was later taken as right of way for the highway. Lake Venita became a popular pleasure resort and was filled on weekends with local people and highway travelers. Many Kansas Citians chose Lake Venita as a picnic spot. In 1927, cottages were built at the lake. There were also boats, a dancing pavilion, and a bathing beach. By 1929, Lake Venita was termed the most popular resort on the highway between Kansas City and St. Louis.
The May 15, 1931, edition of the Odessa Democrat stated, “Ed C. Dart, lessee and manager of Lake Venita, Odessa's popular resort, announces that the 1931 season will be started Saturday, May 16, with a dance in the open air pavilion on the south side of the lake with Lee Basham and his singing orchestra furnishing the music. These dances will continue each Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday all summer. The bathing beach will open about May 30.”
The cabins were torn down in 1970 and replaced with camping facilities. During this time it was a popular overnight stop for campers with a swimming pool, restaurant, and grocery shop.