Rehabilitation of the Haven Hill Gatehouse



The gatehouse before rehabilitation efforts began in June.

Rehabilitation of the Haven Hill Gatehouse has begun thanks to the collaborative efforts of many partners and volunteers. The Gatehouse built in 1927 was the formal entryway into the 2,422 acre Haven Hill Estate, Edsel Ford's chosen "weekend getaway," his "nerve retreat." Edsel Ford was the only child of Henry and Clara Ford, and became the youngest president of the Ford Motor Company in 1919. The garage portion of the Gatehouse will be completed by the fall and serve as a welcome center to Highland State Recreation Area, considered a hub for the County/Regional Trail System.

This is part of a larger effort to develop Highland State Recreation Area as a comprehensive destination for visitors. The state park presently offers equestrian pursuits, camping, cross-country skiing, kayaking, nature exploration, fishing, and auto heritage interpretation. The unique ecosystem found in the park has even been designated a National Natural Landmark.


Dean Sutton is supervising the rehabilitation.

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA), a non-profit that operates under lease agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, was awarded a MotorCities Community Grant that serves as the catalyst for the project. Dean Sutton, President of JDS Historical, a group of construction and alternative energy companies, is taking the lead role in overseeing the work and mentoring four graduating senior from Oakland Schools Technical Center in preservation trades. Support from Michigan Works! gives these students the opportunity to get great work experience as well as develop an appreciation for the heritage resources in our region.

Deputy County Executive Doug Smith sees this as an innovative and very promising approach to historic preservation, park improvement and job training in Oakland County. "This project serves as an excellent model of how to leverage available support in new ways to accomplish several important objectives. By all accounts it's a win, win, win!"

The project comes at a time when the Nation's state parks are under continuous threat due to budget calls. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has even identified America's state parks and state-owned historic sites as one of America's 11 most Endangered Historic Places in 2010. "New approaches to support our state parks are needed now more than ever" says FOHRA President Dick Russell who hopes "the Gatehouse project will inspire our community partners and volunteers, and lead to accelerated rehabilitation efforts at Haven Hill."


FOHRA volunteers and recent graduates from Oakland Schools Technical Centers launch the project.

Join FOHRA and help improve Highland State Recreation Area at www.fohra.org

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