Grosse Pines Residents Celebrate Local History with Outdoor Tribute to The Haven

On Saturday, September 25, residents of the Grosse Pines subdivision, located on Walton Boulevard, welcomed guests and local dignitaries to cut a ribbon and unveil new historical markers commemorating the site and history of The Haven – a private estate built in the late 1920s that was converted to a mental health facility during the Great Depression. The hospital closed in 1968. The structure remained vacant and was destroyed by fire in 1973.

Twenty or so people stand behind a red ribbon being cut.
Rochester Hills Mayor, Bryan Barnett, and Bo Shinnick Hall cut the ribbon to officially open the historical marker.

For nearly three years, the Grosse Pines Association has worked with historian Tiffany Dziurman to create an outdoor exhibit highlighting the history of The Haven. In addition to installing two historical markers near the sub’s entrance at Walton Boulevard and Chalmers, the Grosse Pines Association replaced an iron gate to The Haven’s former entrance along with replica outdoor lamps that sit atop two original stone pillars on each side of the gate. The area has been landscaped and is accessible from the sidewalk.

“The Haven has a unique story that deserves to be told,” said Dziurman. “The Haven encompasses the early history of the automobile, the history of Detroit and southeast Michigan, and, importantly, the history of mental health treatment in the United States during the early to mid-20th century, and it all took place here in our community.”

Descendants of the Shinnick family pose around a marker for The Haven
Descendants of the Shinnick family pose around a marker for The Haven

Dziurman has been researching, writing, and lecturing about The Haven for nearly ten years.

”It’s a wonderful thing when private citizens celebrate local history and preserve a memory from the past,” said Dziurman. “When history matters to people, we all benefit – not only do we learn something remarkable, we acknowledge how the past has shaped our present, and we are better prepared for the future. The Haven Sanitarium matters,” she continued, “not only because it’s part of our community’s story, but because it touched many lives near and far, extending beyond the borders of then Avon Township and beyond Michigan.”

In a written statement, the Grosse Pines Association said, “The residents of Grosse Pines are proud to have the opportunity to preserve the local history of The Haven. We are fortunate to live in a community with such a rich history and believe that communities have an obligation to preserve it and share with all. The Haven Historical Tribute site allows all city residents to experience the history of this incredible mental health facility for many generations.”

A woman rests her hand on a marker with photos as family and friends gather around.
Bo Shinnick Hall admires the historical marker honoring her family ties to The Haven

In 1926, Detroit industrialist Fred Shinnick and his wife, Lillian, built a palatial house on an agrarian landscape in Avon Township, Michigan (now Rochester Hills). Called The Haven, the residence was a country home away from city life for the Shinnick’s and their four children. But by 1932, The Haven home was turned into The Haven Sanitarium, a private hospital for patients struggling with alcohol and drug dependency or diagnosed with severe depression or other serious mental health crises. From 1932 to 1968, The Haven was one of the most respected mental health hospitals in the United States.

Descendants of the Shinnick family were also in attendance at the marker unveiling. Bo Shinnick Hall, the granddaughter of Fred and Lillian Shinnick, was accompanied by her children and some of her grandchildren to help cut the ribbon and unveil the new markers.

“On behalf of the Shinnick clan past and present,” said Hall, “I would like to express our appreciation for the wonderful ribbon-cutting ceremony and historical marker dedication to The Haven. I am sure that neither Fred nor Lily anticipated the amazing outcome of what they built with love, passion, and dedication to Rochester and the human spirit. To see the continuation of family and values carried on in these peaceful surroundings is truly touching.”

Ten adults pose for a photo with an historical marker behind them.
Tiffany Dziurman (center) stands with several local dignitaries and residents of the Grosse Pines subdivision.

To mark the occasion, local dignitaries including Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, Rochester Hills City Council member David J. Blair, who represents Grosse Pines residents, and Rochester Hills City Council Member At-Large David Walker addressed the audience and participated in the unveiling of the markers.

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