The Friends of the Highland Recreation Area (FOHRA) will be hosting their seasonal kickoff for the recreation area at noon Saturday, April 30 at the Edsel Ford Gatehouse.
“It’s a major stepping stone in our multi-year plan to rebuild the Edsel Ford complex,” said FOHRA President Dick Russell.
The Haven Hill Estate, located on property that’s now part of the recreation area, was Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s country estate throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and the Friends of the Highland Recreation Area group has been working to restore and repurpose the remaining buildings in the area for historical and education uses, according to FOHRA Secretary and Spokesperson Jay Fitzgerald.
The Haven Hill estate originally consisted of five structures: the gatehouse, riding stables, a barn, a carriage house, and a lodge.
Fitzgerald said a lot of the work over the past couple years has focused on the barn and gatehouse. A few summers ago, the barn was damaged by a storm, and the FOHRA group has spent the past couple of summers cleaning up the area in addition to cleaning and painting the gatehouse.
“Our intention is to kick off the spring and summer season and to reveal some of the work the friends group has done through the winter,” Fitzgerald said. “We will kick off with a nice, short speech to welcome everybody for the spring and summer and to encourage people to spend time in the park.”
Informational displays will be available for visitors to read about the FOHRA’s efforts and plans. The lodge footprint will also be open to the public for walking tours. Displays featuring photos and historical descriptions of the property will be strewn throughout the lodge foundation.
Refreshments will also be provided.
The event is timed to coincide with the red bud reveal, which is when the red buds on the trees on the estate begin to bloom.
“Hopefully, we timed it when the trees are in bloom as they only bloom for about 10 days,” Russell said. “We’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve done with those in the community who would like to show up.”