Why is the Highland Recreation Area/ Haven Hill important?
The Haven Hill complex was built by Edsel B. Ford in 1924 as his 2,400 acre get-away “nerve retreat”. This complex included a cedar log lodge, a Gate House, Sheep Barn, and a Carriage House with chauffeur’s quarters attached. A large swimming pool, a clay surface tennis court, and riding stables also made Haven Hill an entertainment venue, attracting many famous visitors such as; Thomas Edison, Admiral Richard Byrd, the Duke of Windsor, and Charles Lindbergh, while Ford family lived here.
After Edsel’s untimely death, Eleanor Ford sold the entire Haven Hill Complex to the State of Michigan Department of Conservation in 1946. About 6,000 total acres were further developed by the Michigan DNR to become the Highland State Recreation Area. Highland State Recreation Area was designated as a National Natural Landmark Area in 1972. However, in 1982, the Haven Hill complex was closed, rendering the buildings subject to disrepair and vandalism. The Friends of Highland Recreation Area are actively restoring the buildings, trails and grounds as an attraction for nature loving visitors.
Richard G.Russell Jr.
With a wide range of historical interests and skill sets, the Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) formed as a Nonprofit Corporation in 2008. FOHRA entered into a lease agreement in 2009 with the Michigan DNR-Parks and Recreation Division to revitalize the Haven Hill Complex in ways that foster economic reinvestment in the area by attracting visitors to its grounds, special events and trail systems.
Help Make History
You can become a member of Friends of Highland Recreation Area, volunteer at our events, or serve on one of our committees. You can also financially support the special projects to restore the historic Gatehouse, Chauffeur’s Quarters, and Carriage House .
Donate Now (Make checks payable to)
Friends of Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA)
P.O. Box 800
Highland, MI 48357-0800