Cranberry Lake Farm Moves to its Next Life- With Video

Oakland Township is Polishing the Crown Jewel of Historic Cranberry Lake Farm, its 1840 Greek Revival Farmhouse.

First a farm, then a summer home for a wealthy executive and now part of a township park, the graceful house is poised to become a historic community center. Workers are currently renovating the interior of the house. Outdoors, site work is largely completed.

Outside view of the Axford-Coffin Farmhouse

Oakland Township is polishing the crown jewel of historic Cranberry Lake Farm, its 1840 Greek revival farmhouse.

“There’s been a lot of work going on at the main house,” said Barb Barber, administrative assistant to the township’s Historic District Commission, which is overseeing the renovations. She said she expects interior renovations to be done by the end of the year.

The original living-room chandelier has been restored and put back in place. A fully functional kitchen will be installed so the first floor can be used for gatherings such as weddings. A loft added to the living room somewhere along the line is also being restored, along with it’s original, ornate metal screen.

Barber said the most difficult decision by far was how to install two handicap ramps so as not to detract from the site’s character. The results are low and unobtrusive, incorporating limestone caps, fieldstone sides and a decorative railing.  An aggregate stone used for the narrow walkway throughout the site blends in nicely.

Inside the main house, the decision was made to keep the huge stone fireplace, which is believed to have been added by Coffin over the original fireplace. It has a staircase running up through it to the second floor, and Barber points out what appears to be a winking face in the stone’s boulders.

Outside view of the Axford-Coffin Farmhouse

The farmstead is known historically as the Axford-Coffin Farm

“It’s unique,” she said. “A man probably designed it. It’s certainly not feminine or dainty.” Because the farm’s period of historic significance extends to the 1950s, the fireplace could be preserved, even though it’s not original to the house.

Yet to come are interior furnishings. A piano and antique lighting have been offered; grants and donations are being sought. Future plans also call for a master landscaping plan and a business plan, which will set some guidelines for how the farm will be used.

Concerts in the park have been held on the farmhouse porch, but were moved away this year due to construction. “Hopefully they will be back next year, because it certainly lends itself to concerts,” Barber said.

Funding for the restoration is mostly from a historic preservation millage, with assistance from the parks and recreation board and the Oakland Township Historical Society. The vision for the site is the result of collaboration between the HDC, parks and recreation board and the historical society.

“Oakland Township is lucky that they support the preservation in the community,” Barber said.

Photo of the Axford-Coffin Farmhouse

Axford-Coffin Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Located on Predmore Road, the farmstead is known historically as the Axford-Coffin farm and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district includes 16 acres of the 213-acre township park. In addition to the main house and caretaker’s house, the site includes a replica of the original carriage barn, a henhouse and various other outbuildings. A barn and chicken coop were moved to the site from elsewhere in the township.

Settlers are believed to have farmed the land from about 1836, when it was purchased from the U. S. government, until about 1908. From 1939-51, the farm served as a summer home for the Howard Coffin family. Coffin was an oil executive who lived in Detroit and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1946 to 1949.

The Historical Society offers tours of the Cranberry Lake Farm Historic District by appointment. Call 248-693-8660 to schedule one.