HRA Edsel Ford Barn Winterization Weekend A Success!

The members and guest volunteers of the Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) worked feverishly on Saturday and Sunday, November first and second, to stabilize and "winterize" the Edsel Ford Barn inside of the Recreation Area. The volunteers worked in the cool Fall weather and Sunday rain these last two days to clear the huge mass of debris that fell around the historic barn during the severe storms in June of this year.

An outdoor extended-reach forklift was used to perform the heavy lifting of debris from the south side of the barn, and to clear a safe path around the remaining "cube" section of the structure.  Volunteers sorted debris into designated areas for recycling.

Volunteers cleared the southern side of the remaining structure in order to provide easy access to the barn for installation of tarpaulins in preparation for the oncoming winter. Members of the FOHRA wore hard hats, safety glasses, and safety shoes to minimize the possibility of job-site injuries.

Above: The Edsel Ford Barn at the beginning of the weekend winterization effort.

Below: The historic Edsel Ford Barn at the end of the day today.

The Friends of Highland Recreation area would like to sincerely thank the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the opportunity to assist in the preservation efforts put forth towards this important natural historic resource. Special thanks are also sincerely extended to the Michigan Barn Preservation Network without whom our efforts would never have been realized this weekend.

More to come as the progress continues! Please come out and enjoy the special resources that the Highland Recreation Area has to offer. And make sure to consider joining the FOHRA in our effort to preserve and protect the things that the Highland Recreation Area has to offer. See our website at

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.

Haven Hill Lake Peaking

Here's my favorite fall photograph area... the southwest shore of Haven Hill Lake inside the Highland Recreation Area. You can see that I used a trimmed version of this photo as the FOHRA Blog's changeable border at the top of the page too!

And below, a dew-covered spider web from Goose Meadow in celebration of Halloween! Boo!

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!

Fall Colors Painting Haven Hill Lake!

Haven Hill Lake has some wonderful fall colors blooming right now. Go to the dam and look to the north and you'll see a nice patch of color.

The ability to see the vibrance of these colored trees has a lot to do with the time of day and the stillness of the wind. Early morning and late afternoon are best. Soon the whole area will be lighting up.

Just like most people, I always look for combinations of colors like reds and oranges and yellows, so I was surprised at the photo above - it's kinda special with the striking palette of yellow and gold!

Enjoy the fall colors inside of Highland Recreation Area!

FOHRA Represented at Ellis Barn Festival

Tim Wiles, Steve Stier, and Jay Fitzgerald represented the Friends of Highland Recreation Area at the Ellis Barn Festival yesterday at the Oakland County Fairgrounds. Oakland County and the Michigan Barn Preservation Network put on the Ellis Barn Festival in Springfield Oaks. Jay Fitzgerald of the FOHRA gave a presentation about the Highland Recreation Area, it's historical structures, wonderful flora and fauna, and of course the status of the Edsel Ford Barn. One of the FOHRA traveling table displays was set up at the Festival with photos, information, and a DVD player showing a short video of the history of Haven Hill that was created by Chris Arble, also a member of the FOHRA.

Above: Jay Fitzgerald at the FOHRA's display inside the Ellis Barn.

The 14,000 square foot Ellis Barn was constructed in 1884 in Clarkston and features a gambrel roof (a gambrel is a two-sided roof with two slopes on each side. The upper slope is positioned at a shallow angle while the lower slope is quite steep). The barn's original property and the structure were purchased by a real estate investment firm owned by major league baseball player's Kirk Gibson and Tim Birtsas. They realized the historical value of the barn and donated it to Oakland County along with $75,000 to towards it's relocation and reconstruction.

The barn was disassembled and moved to it's present location on the fairgrounds in Springfield Oaks, Michigan in 2005 - 2006.

Above, the awesome interior of the Ellis Barn.

The FOHRA presentation and display were well received by the attendees. Literature from the FOHRA and the Michigan DNR were distributed, and several new email contacts from interested attendees were received. Go FOHRA!