Haven Hill Gate House Garage - New ADA Ramp Surface

We as members of the Friends of Highland Recreation Area are doing our best to make all areas as accessible to everyone as possible. In 2013 the Haven Hill Gate House at the front of the park received a new ADA access ramp. The ramp surface aged over the last year, and was replaced last weekend. Old Gate House ADA Ramp-7267


The new surface will last throughout inclement weather conditions.

New Gate House ADA Ramp 040514-9874

Come out and enjoy the Artist's display at the Redbud Reveal event on Saturday, April 26 between 12 noon and 4:00 pm. Everyone is welcome!

FOHRA "Paves the Road" to Haven Hill

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area, the MDNR, and Cadillac Asphalt, L.L.C. worked together to put some much-needed repairs into the Haven Hill Road up to the historic Edsel Ford Carriage House and Lodge site this last weekend. Haven Hill Road Gate

Some areas required small patches, others whole sections of roadway.

Road Crew

Repairs were in dire need, as sections of the roadway were worsening with the spring run-offs each year.

Repair Asphalt Section

The team at Cadillac Asphalt put down 30 tons of asphalt into many severe potholes and damaged sections of the old road. Donated manpower, time, and energy were a much-appreciated gift from the folks at Cadillac.

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area are assuming a Lease soon that includes the upper section of the road. Eventually, even the old parking area up near the site will be refinished.

There's a lot going on with FOHRA at Highland Recreation Area. Come on out and join us as we "pave the road" to saving the historic features of the Recreation Area.

Edsel Ford Barn Clean-Up Nearing Completion

The storm-damaged Edsel Ford Barn within the Highland Recreation Area has been given tender loving care just about every two weekends on Sundays this Spring and Summer. The Friends of Highland Recreation Area volunteers, with the help of Oakland County WWAM teams and the MDNR, have cleared of debris over 2/3 of what was the barn's interior concrete pad. The June 8, 2009 storm heavily damaged the barn when 80+ mile per hour winds roared through Oakland County, Michigan. IMG_5180 1280x1024

Great progress has been made through teh efforts of FOHRA, the parks charitable support group. Plans continue forward for a revitalization of the barn into a shared public space for the area's residents. A conceptual drawing can be seen below.

EFB Pavilion Concept 640x480Heavy equipment and heavy-lifting volunteers have made all of the difference... a coordinated effort to rejuvenate an amazing historic structure commissioned by Edsel Ford and his family in what was once his Haven Hill Estate.

IMG_5166 1280x1024Come on out for future workdays and help with the project. The debris is being salvaged as much as possible for re-use. Hand sorting of wood, metal, functional components, etcetera is a tedious business. Work day information can be found at the FOHRA website, www.fohra.org.

Early March Haven Hill FOHRA WWAM!

While reading this posts' title you might ask yourself what's a "FOHRA and a WWAM"? Well FOHRA is the Friends of Highland Recreation Area and WWAM stands for Weekends and Weekdays Alternatives for Misdemeanants. WWAM is an Oakland County program that was created as an alternative for misdemeanor offenders wherein participants not only pay for the option to work, but the work itself is provided free to various community projects... fohra-hh-logo-fohra-320x240On March 7, 2009 the FOHRA team met 12 to 14 WWAM participants and their Supervisor on Haven Hill inside of Highland Recreation Area. It was a dark and rainy day, but by the end of the work bee the group had transformed the Haven Hill area around the Carriage House back into the park-like setting that it once was years ago.

carriage-house-lawn-view-after-clean-upAbove: FOHRA set up a tent for the WWAM crew during the rainy day at the Haven Hill Carriage House. Photo by Tom Slaga.

Years of forest debris had covered the wonderful pathways that surround the Edsel Ford Carriage House and the road leading up to the Haven Hill Lodge Ruins. WWAM support, FOHRA members, and a heavy excavator were used to clear the road and the pathways.

parking-path-before parkling-path-after

Above: The path to the old parking area before and after the volunteer efforts. Photos by Tom Slaga.

heavy-equip-030709-haven-hillAbove: FOHRA member Dean Sutton uses his heavy equipment to clear Haven Hill Road.

FOHRA has scheduled more Spring clean-ups at the Edsel Ford Barn, the Carriage House, the Lodge Ruins, and the Gate House for 2009.

circle-drive-looking-n-wAbove: The circle of Haven Hill Road after FOHRA and WWAM clean-up on March 7, 2009. Photo by Tom Slaga.

We would like to sincerely thank the WWAM program organizers and participants for their work.

FOHRA will continue its efforts to improve and maintain the natural settings within the Highland Recreation Area. Look out for more announcements of upcoming events soon! Come and join us!


Edsel Ford Barn Winterization Underway!

In a cooperative effort with the Michigan DNR, the Friends of Highland Recreation Area have started a significant project at the park this weekend.  The damaged and ailing Edsel Ford Barn is being stabilized, cleaned, and wrapped for winter!

Above: FOHRA members survey the Edsel Ford barn the morning of Saturday, November 1 in preparation for the day's work.

The barn was damaged by a severe storm in June of this year after languishing for many years without major repairs or significant maintenance. The weakened structure's livestock portion (the southern 3/4 of the barn) collapsed in on itself after being hit broadside by the high winds that accompanied the severe weather.

Above: Dean Sutton, a contractor volunteer from Efficient Builders, surveys the straightness of the barn with a lansit (theodolite).

Highland Recreation Area Friends group members were excited to get started on the project of getting the old barn ready for winter. A lot of personal time and manual labor is being donated by the group to sort debris, conserve salvageable components, and prep the barn for the Michigan winter. Safety is priority number one on the job site, and paying special attention to salvaging and re-use of the barns components is a close second.

The 2-day project will culminate Sunday with some exterior "wrapping" of the structure with tarpaulins to ward off the winter rain and snow.

Fall Clean-Up on Haven Hill

This last weekends' Sunday work party (October 12) included a visit to the Haven Hill Gatehouse, a review of the Edsel Ford Barn, and some productive clean-up on the hill at the circle in front of the Haven Hill Lodge ruins.

Above, members of the Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) enjoy a clean-up day on Haven Hill in front of the ruins of Edsel Ford's Lodge. The group cleared overgrowth, removed piles of storm-damaged tree limbs, and raked and shoveled there way through the afternoon. It was a nice day (70's to near 80 degrees), and the group was visited by 10 - 12 people hiking the Haven Hill in the great weather.

The location on the hill inside of the Highland Recreation Area is a wonderful place to hike and enjoy the fall color. If you can make some time available for a good cause, come on out and join us in helping our local recreation area on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month! Look for the FOHRA gang.

REMINDER: Click on the pics to see the full-sized images. Have a great day!

Creativity and Inspiration

Although the Edsel Ford Barn has been severely damaged by the summer storms this year, the FOHRA has been inspired with new visions for the Barn's future. One example is shown in the depiction below.

This design concept would include a pavilion over the existing slab that was once the interior floor of the  barn.  As you can see, this concept would accommodate a large number of possibilities for future use. Childrens' events, music, fairs, equestrian shows, art displays, winter activities - all could be realized with this design. The front of the barn would be used for historical displays, interior office space, educational classrooms, dining/cafeteria space, etc..

The Friends of Highland Recreation are filled with inspiration for the future.  This "pavilion-style" concept is one example of many possibilities. I hope you're inspired as well!

Carriage House Clean-Up

The Haven Hill Carriage House received a good lawn mowing and exterior clean-up this last month. An intrepid group from FOHRA gathered together with rakes, shovels, clippers, and a lawn mower to do a little summer cleaning. Here you can see the jungle of growth from this spring into July...

And below the area after the Friends Group work...

The historic Carriage House is just south of the Edsel Ford Haven Hill Lodge ruins. The building was a place for Edsel's vehicles and still stands watch near the ruins of the once stately retreat. It is the only remaining example in the park of the Lodge's construction techniques.. awesome log walls and stone fireplaces.

Weekend work like this is a lot of fun... and great exercise in the wonderful Highland Recreation Area wilderness. Come out and join us! We can be found in the key areas of the park... just look for the group with the shovels, brooms, rakes, and tools! Go to our FOHRA Website for more details...