Youth Volunteer Day at Haven Hill Gatehouse in Highland State Recreation Area

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FOHRA Youth Volunteer Day!

Saturday, September 21

9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Please join FOHRA for a fun day at the Haven Hill Gatehouse in Highland State Recreation Area. Volunteers ages 11-17 are welcome! Saturday, September 21, 2019. 9 AM to 3 PM.

Planned activities include:

  • Introduction to Haven Hill history

  • Painting of Gatehouse

  • Grounds maintenance.

Please pack a sack lunch. Bottled water and prepackaged snacks will be provided to volunteers by FOHRA. Weather appropriate clothing is suggested.

If verification for volunteer hours is needed, please bring required forms to day of volunteering for FOHRA signature.

John Fitzgerald

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) volunteer organization was established in 2007, and is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt non-profit organization operating under lease agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Within one of the most picturesque, fascinating, and historically significant state parks in southeast lower Michigan, our goal is to combine the former Haven Hill estate history with Highland Recreation Area’s existing amenities, wilderness, and recreation.

Haven Hill Gate House Garage - Interior Plastering Underway!

This weekend the Friends of Highland Rec and a great crew of experienced professional plasterers began repairing the interior walls of the Haven Hill Gate House.

Read More

Edsel Ford Barn Reconstruction Begins!

Hardy volunteers from the Friends of Highland Recreation Area worked together between rain showers and thunderstorms to clean old wounds from the barn and install the new walls. It was a momentus day as the workers performed the first new construction on the barn since the violent storm in June 2008 tore at the historic structure.

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Haven Hill Summer Landscaping

Below, the Haven Hill Carriage House rests peacefully in the dappled sunlight of a summer morning on the Hill in Highland State Recreation Area. Nearby, the Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) performed some summer landscaping on the Lodge site. Carriage House

The Haven Hill Lodge was once the home of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford family.

Haven Hill Lodge Site 07/25/10

The Friends group and a WWAM Team from Oakland County completed some routine summer landscaping maintenance on Haven Hill during one of their regularly scheduled work days. Below, Jerry McManus uses the tractor to clear some roadside growth from haven Hill Road.

McManus on the HillSee the FOHRA website at for more information on how to volunteer.

The Friends of Highland recreation area also readying Haven Hill, the Edsel Ford Barn, and the Gate House for the summer Haven Hill Festival to occur on Saturday, August 28 from 10 am until 4 pm in Goose Meadow. Check out for more info. The event will include a Model A car show, and a vintage base ball game. It is free to the public. State park vehicle fees apply.

Edsel Ford Barn: Hot Sun in the Summer Time

The Edsel Ford Barn clean-up work is nearing completion as FOHRA members use the mornings' cooler temperatures to sweat out a few hours of hard labor. The photo below shows the amazingly clean and visible concrete pad that was once under as much as 10 feet of debris after the barn collapsed in 2008.

Multiple large dumpsters of non salvageable wood and debris have been filled and removed from the work site over the past several months. The Edsel Ford Barns' rear 2/3 section collapsed in a June 2008 storm. Much of 2009 was spent readying the site for the clean-up effort.

Seen below, Dustin Proctor works hard today hand moving wood from one of the final piles of barn debris.

Much of the work has been done by hand in order to sort the debris. Heavy machinery has been used to move mostly large sections of the barn. During today's work just three Friends of Highland Recreation Area volunteers filled nearly one half of a 30-yard dumpster.

Above: FOHRA volunteer Jenna Coyle gives a "thumbs up" after emptying another of the many cans of debris moved today.

As a reminder, the conceptual drawing of the Barn's future is shown below. A rebuild of the front end of the barn (still standing today) and the addition of a new "pavilion" roof over the concrete pad to the south.

For more information and to help with this great project go to

Haven Hill Gate House Exposed!

Members of Highland State Recreation Area's support group, FOHRA, got together on November 8 and cleared away years of brush in front of the Haven Hill Gate House. The old building can now be seen from the M-59 entrance station as visitors enter the park. Above: Heavy brush blocks the view of the Haven Hill Gate House.

Above: Members clip and pull the years of brush that had obscured the Gate House from view.

Above: FOHRA members Tim Wiles and Jerry McManus review the clearing.

Above: The Haven Hill Gate House, once the entrance to Edsel Ford's Haven Hill Estate, exposed to public view beyond the entrance station turn-around at Highland Recreation Area.

Above: Friends of Highland Recreation Area marvel at the new view.

FOHRA plans to improve these sites within the park. The Haven Hill Gate House may become an informative Visitors Center some day. Come on out and help the effort. Visit for more info.

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 Project: FOHRA Signage In Place

This last weekend at one of the regular 2nd and 4th Sunday FOHRA work sessions, a new sign advertising FOHRA work days was installed on the front of the Edsel Ford Barn inside the Highland Recreation Area. The sign was assembled on the ground and installed using a lift. FOHRA EFB Sign

Great progress has been achieved throughout the spring and into this summer on the green salvage project of the debris field in back of the damaged Edsel Ford Barn. The barn's animal quarters, comprising nearly 3/4 of it's total length, was severely damaged during a June 2008 storm.

Photo by Tom Slaga

As can be seen above, the huge concrete pad beneath the barn is being exposed nicely. Team members expect full clearing of the pad in upcoming weeks. FOHRA members, community volunteers, Oakland Community College students and professors, and WWAM work crews, plus many more folks, have all contributed to the hours worked to save the barn's resources for the rebuild.

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DSC_9662 1280x1024Come on out and join us to help finish up the salvaging of the barn's materials - check the FOHRA website at for details! Below... a conceptual drawing of the future plan for the barn's rise!

EFB Pavilion Concept Drawing

The Friends of Highland Recreation Area are a 501(c)(3) organization.