the modern day mdnr highland state recreation area maintenance complex

The Haven Hill Farm Group Buildings

Exploring a New World of Agriculture

An expression of deep respect for the land, this complex was called the Farm Group Buildings. Edsel Ford learned from his father Henry Ford wrote in 1932 that “with 1 foot in industry and another foot in the land, human society is firmly balanced...” In 1941 Henry Ford displayed a car with plastic body panels made from soybeans, weighing 1,000 pounds less than a steel car.

Jens Jensen’s design for Haven Hill included road plans, Haven Hill Lake, and a waterfowl sanctuary. The Danish landscape designer’s work focused on naturalistic features and native plants. In Michigan, he also designed landscapes at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Gross Pointe Shores and Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate in Dearborn.

  • Gardens on the north side of the Farm group buildings.
  • The buildings once housed thoroughbred horses and milking cows. The stable man also lived there.
  • The Farm group buildings, shown here in 1975, are now used as the maintenance shop for Highland State Recreation Area (no public access). All black-and-white photos courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • The attractive cupolas, still apparent on the building, provided draft-free ventilation.
  • Haven Hill Lake, one of the naturalistic landscape features designed by Jens Jensen (right).


Edsel Ford established the farm complex for the support of the entire Haven Hill Estate, with the goal to be self-sufficient.