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

...It is thought by some that the climate along the lake shore must be exceptionally disagreeable in winter; but apart form the high winds that sometimes prevail, this is not the case.  In fact, the invigorating character of the air, in comparison with that in the city, is as apparent in winter as in summer.  From January to May it will not do to boast of the climate anywhere north of the Ohio river.  However, if we remain in this latitude during winter, we will find the thermometer, until the lake becomes frozen over, ranging several degrees higher than in the interior, and, as to the earliness of the spring, convincing proof is afforded in the fact that the first vegetables raised hereabouts come from the Pointe...

...The quality of the small fruits, like strawberries, raspberries and currants, is something marvelous.  Grapes also, as elsewhere along the lakes, do well.  The Concord, Delaware, Niagara, and Rogers' hybrids are favorites.  Catawbas ripen rather late for this climate, but do fairly.  Most of the ornamental trees, including many of the new varieties, do well, but the soft maples flourish with a vigor rarely seen elsewhere.  The leaves of the horse chestnuts brown too early, and the magnolia is tender until fully grown.  Evergreens, like the arbor vitaes, spruces and pines, grown well, and rhododendrons and azaleas are gradually being introduced.

In connection with other features of Grosse Pointe, the Jersey stock farm, called Clairview, is worthy of notice.  This farm, located in the rear of the country residence of Geo. S. Davis, contains nearly forty thoroughbred Jersey cattle, all of them being registered in the books of the American Jersey Cattle Club, and comprising specimens from the most approved families of this famous breed.

Clairview Stock Farm

The beauty of these animals, their fawn-like appearance and graceful movements, coupled with their docility, render them great favorites. Visitors are at all times welcome at this farm, which may be reached by a lane on the west side, and a half hour may be pleasantly passed in inspecting the stock.

The water supply of the Pointe is usually received from the lake through small pipes extending out several hundred feet from shore.  It is pumped up, generally by a hot air engine, in other cases by a windmill into wooden tanks, and thence distributed through the houses and grounds.  Wells afford pure water if not dug too deep, in which case a vein of sulphur is often struck.

Those of the residents who have a sufficient number of acres, indulge in the luxury of imported Jersey and Holstein cattle, as well as in Kentucky riding horses and fast trotters.  After dinner, and until dark we may get a glimpse of the latter, for it is customary with the residents to take an evening airing, and the drive sometimes extends along the shore, and for a few miles back in the country.

Of that pest of summer resorts, the festive mosquito, there is little complaint, except where evergreens or standing water afford them a lurking place.  The beneficent breezes drive them to their haunt a few miles back, so that mosquito nets are not often required.  Wire screens are used as a protection from flies that are everywhere found in hot weather.  The worst nuisance is the June but, possibly so-called because he comes in July.  For a few days he rules supreme along the lakes, but as his stay is brief and harmless, and, as he affords nourishing diet to the fish, who, in turn, help us through fast days and lent, we must endure him patiently.

1879 Re-Christening Regatta 1879 Re-Christening Regatta

The lake was first christened Sainte Claire, on August 12, 1679, by the famous explorer, La Salle, and his chaplain, Father Hennepin.  On that date, the historic ship "Griffin," the first sailing vessel constructed and manned by Europeans to navigate these waters, passed from the strait (Detroit) into the calm, clear waters of the adjacent lake.  The day being the festival of Sainte Claire, the foundress of the Franciscan Nuns, it was though appropriate by the explorers to bestow her name on the beautiful sheet of water on which they were sailing.  In the course of year, ignorance of history and careless writing, caused the name to be ordinarily spelled "Saint Clair."  Attention having been directed to the error, on the two hundredth anniversary of La Salle's arrival (Aug 12, 1879) a memorable celebration was held at the Pointe, and the lake was formally rechristened.  An historical address by Bela Hubbard, with poems by Judge Jas. V. Campbell and D. B. Duffield were delivered, and most of the residents of the locality with many visitors from Detroit enlivened the occasion with their presence.