Windmill Point Grosse Pointe Historical Society
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Selections From
Grosse Pointe On Lake Sainte Claire
By Silas Farmer, 1886

From the Edition Republished by
Gale Research Company, 1974

Farmer Book - Inside CoverAn enviable lake frontage and long association with neighboring Detroit have been factors that have made the history of Grosse Pointe unique. Once a French farming community, it later became a summer resort, and with the coming of the twentieth century, attained prominence as a suburb.

In order to preserve a record of the early days of the community, the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, now a committee of the Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library, was founded in 1945.  One of the Society's most valuable and rare documents is a slim volume entitled Souvenir of the Pointe (and also called on the title page, Grosse Pointe on Lake Sainte Claire), which was written in 1886 by Silas Farmer and Theodore Parsons Hall.

Because of the interest aroused by this book, which was the gift of Mrs. Phelps Newberry, the members of the Society felt that it should be reprinted.  In this way more people could enjoy the delightful glimpse it affords of the community when it was a favorite summer retreat for Detroit business men and their families.

The author takes us along the road that skirteT. P. Hall Estated the lake past one charming summer villa after another nestled amid ancient trees and facing velvet lawns sloping down toward the lake.  One of the most interesting estates belonged to Theodore Parsons Hall himself. The residence was a charming Victorian gingerbread villa surrounded by extensive gardens and woodlands.  Two unusual features of the estate were a Swiss boathouse on the lake and grotto enshrining a statue of Sainte Claire on a sandy beach.

Mr. Hall had retired from a business career in the firm of Gillette and Hall, Detroit's leading grain commission house, to devoted himself to travel and literary pursuits and the improvement of his Grosse Pointe place.  He enjoyed doing research in the fields of history, biography and genealogy, and was a member of several historical societies.

His wife was the former Alexandrine Louise Godfroy, who was descended from one Detroit's oldest French Families.  A frequent guest of the Halls was Marie Caroline Watson Hamlin, who wrote Legends of Le Detroit.  The grotto on the Hall's beach commemorated an old French legend of Grosse Pointe recorded in her book.

It was inevitable that Silas Farmer, Michigan's greatest historian, should have sought the assistance of Theodore Parsons Hall when he contemplated writing about Grosse Pointe, and we are indebted to the latter for collecting and arranging the material for Souvenir of The Pointe.  The completed work is a light-hearted supplement to Farmer's major work, The History of Detroit and Wayne County, which he wrote in 1884 and which has recently been republished.

Son of John Farmer, Detroit's earliest map publisher, Silas Farmer began his career by following in his father's footsteps.  While working on maps, he conceived the idea of writing the history of Detroit and was soon launched on a literary career. In addition to the works already mentioned, he also wrote Champions of Christianity and collaborated with Charles Orr in writing All about Cleveland.  As a public-spirited citizen, he was one of the founders of the Detroit Y.M.C.A. and was on the board of trustees of the Central Methodist Church.

Souvenir of the Pointe is written with style and verve.  Because of its rarity, it has been little know heretofore.  It adds another interesting facet to the Michigan historical writings of the period, which besides Farmer's other works and Mrs. Hamlin's Legends of Le Detroit also include Bela Hubbard's Memorials of a Half-century.