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Owosso, Michigan
City of Owosso
West Town Historic Commercial and Industrial District along Main Street (M-21)
Location within Shiawassee County
Location within Shiawassee County
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Coordinates: 42°59′46″N 84°10′28″W / 42.99611°N 84.17444°W / 42.99611; -84.17444Coordinates: 42°59′46″N 84°10′28″W / 42.99611°N 84.17444°W / 42.99611; -84.17444
Country United States
State Michigan
County Shiawassee
Incorporated 1859
 • Type Council–manager
 • Total 5.39 sq mi (13.96 km2)
 • Land 5.25 sq mi (13.59 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.37 km2)
728 ft (222 m)
 • Total 15,194
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,751.71/sq mi (1,062.39/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s) 989
FIPS code 26-61940
GNIS feature ID 0634254

Owosso is the largest city in Shiawassee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 15,194 at the 2010 census. The city is mostly surrounded by Owosso Township on its west, but the two are administered autonomously. The city was named after Chief Wosso, an Ojibwe leader of the Shiawassee area.


Alfred L. and Benjamin O. Williams were early settlers to the town. They drew Elias Comstock, who built the first permanent home in the settlement. Owosso was incorporated as a city in 1859 at which time it had 1000 people. It had never had a period as a village. The town's first mayor was Amos Gould, a judge originally from New York. In 1876, it organized its fire department.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.37 square miles (13.91 km2), of which 5.23 square miles (13.55 km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) is water.

Climate and weather

Owosso experiences frigid winters with the last snow usually falling in April, typically Northern Midwestern spring thaws, balmy to hot summers, and colorful falls with the first snows usually appearing in October. Each year Owosso averages eleven days with temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C), and nine days with temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C). Owosso averages twenty-nine inches of rain per year, and forty-one inches of snow. The average growing season in Owosso is 144 days.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,160
1870 2,065 78.0%
1880 2,501 21.1%
1890 6,564 162.5%
1900 8,696 32.5%
1910 9,639 10.8%
1920 12,575 30.5%
1930 14,496 15.3%
1940 14,424 −0.5%
1950 15,948 10.6%
1960 17,006 6.6%
1970 17,179 1.0%
1980 16,455 −4.2%
1990 16,322 −0.8%
2000 15,713 −3.7%
2010 15,194 −3.3%
2019 (est.) 14,441 −5.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 15,194 people, 6,161 households, and 3,779 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,905.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,121.7/km2). There were 6,823 housing units at an average density of 1,304.6 per square mile (503.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.7% White, 0.8% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.

There were 6,161 households, of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.7% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.00.

The median age in the city was 34.8 years. 25.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.9% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 12.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.



  • M-21 runs east and west through the city
  • M-52 runs north and south through the city
  • M-71 runs diagonally, southeast and northwest, terminating at M-21


  • Curwood Castle was the writing studio of the famous author James Oliver Curwood. In honor of the famous writer Owosso holds the annual Curwood Festival. The castle is now a museum that contains period antiques, and Curwood books, photos, and movie posters as well as memorabilia from the life of another one of Owosso’s native sons: Thomas E. Dewey.
  • The Shiawasse Arts Center exhibits and sells prints of Frederick Carl Frieseke, original work of other artists, holds art classes, competitions, and has exhibitions scheduled throughout the year.
  • The Steam Railroading Institute
  • Owosso Speedway
George Perrigo House Owosso
The George Perrigo House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Curwood Festival includes a street fair, parades, contests including raft races, carnival rides, concerts, a medieval reenactment encampment and more.


Education is provided by the Owosso Public Schools, which owns the historic Lincoln School on Michigan Avenue south of M-21. Owosso High School is the sole high school in the city.

Salem Lutheran School is a grade school (Pre-K-8) of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Owosso.

Notable people

  • Emile Benoit (Jerry Urick), author, playwright of A Midsummer Night's Hangover.
  • Alvin M. Bentley, philanthropist, foreign service officer and U.S. Congressman
  • Leann Birch, developmental psychologist
  • Chester Brewer, athlete, Michigan State and Missouri football head coach and athletic director
  • Diane Carey, author
  • James Oliver Curwood, conservationist and author
  • Thomas E. Dewey, lawyer, author, and politician, Governor of New York, 1944 and 1948 Republican presidential candidate
  • Frederick Carl Frieseke, American Impressionist artist
  • Sanford M. Green, Michigan jurist and legislator
  • Alfred D. Hershey, bacteriologist and co-winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology
  • Paul Kanan, Communications Director and Press Secretary for the Michigan Democratic Party.
  • Etta Doane Marden (1851-1946), American missionary in Turkey, 1881-1925
  • Bobbi McCaughey, Iowa mother who gave birth to septuplets
  • Rob Oliver, Emmy nominated animation director for The Simpsons.
  • Mel Schacher, member of the rock bands ? and the Mysterians and Grand Funk Railroad
  • Cora Taylor, co-founder of Owosso's Indian Trails Bus Line
  • C. Warren Thornthwaite, Professor of Climatology at Johns Hopkins University
  • John Tomac, bicycle racer and builder
  • Brad Van Pelt, football player, Michigan State and 14-year NFL career, 5-time Pro Bowl selection
  • Bradlee Van Pelt, football player
  • Lloyd R. Welch, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California
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