Mount Clemens…ish

12 Aug

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It’s another day of exceptional weather here in metro Detroit, let’s get out and enjoy it. Not far from downtown Mt Clemens in Macomb County we are visiting George George Memorial Park off of Moravian in Clinton Township, this is not your average park! A tall fountain faces Moravian, water spills from a large basin into a shallow pool, grass is green and freshly mowed, landscape shrubs hug the arborvitae fence line. Just inside the gate we park the Jeep, the sun spreads warmth across our face and shoulders as we make our way to a pond on the left. At least a dozen ducks stand on the shoreline as others leisurely paddle through the water, we traverse the outside edge of the pond encountering look outs and seating areas along the way. A main walking path is paved, it takes you through the center of the well manicured, landscaped grounds; a large playscape to the right entertains children of varying ages, Black Eyed Susans bloom in perennial beds.

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The fountain plaza is delightful; jets of water shoot skyward from an elevated pool, water pours over the sides into a recessed area, more water flows over and out of boulders. Trees and other greenery sprout from a little center island, singular arcs of water criss-cross the narrow canal on the backside. Lush hostas thrive in shady areas while tall grasses take satisfaction in the bright sun. A photographer takes photos of a baby boy in this perfect setting. The further we walk the more natural the landscape becomes; wildflowers take the place of formal gardens, fields substitute lawns. The ground becomes a bit marshy, a natural pond is off to one side while the earth slopes upward on the other. A footbridge crosses the Clinton River, the sides are dense with trees, branches lean toward the water, a vehicle bridge is in the distance. We cross a couple more bridges over smaller waterways, the only sounds we hear are insects. The path ends as the property nears Groesbeck, time to turn back.

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A different photographer is taking pictures of a woman on the bridge, what a lovely background, it’s a perfect day for photos. Queen Anne’s Lace and cattail grow freely in the meadow, bumble bees race from flower to flower. We pause for yet another photographer  taking a family portrait, looking over the side of the bridge we spot a tiny turtle; algae clings to his glossy shell as he rests on a branch, ducks approach to see if we have anything to feed them. Back in the center of the park the pavilion sits empty, attractive wood beams compose the ceiling, we look through open arches onto the park grounds, a cherub stands on the peak of the structure. We pass beds of beautiful daylilies in yellow, red and cream, the sound of children’s laughter is carried on the breeze. Vine-covered arches straddle the path, folks arrive with coolers and  baskets filled with goodies for a picnic lunch. The 30 acre park is an absolute gem. There are seating areas in the sun or shade, by water or gardens; it’s a perfect place to take a walk, have a picnic or curl up with a good book.

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In a few minutes time we are in Mt Clemens, the Jeep is parked in a nearby lot, we are having lunch at Three Blind Mice on Main Street. We have always been fond of this building, the current owners did a wonderful job refurbishing the now 115 year-old structure when they took it over. Originally known as The Green Tree, it opened in 1900. Inside, the walls are American Oak, the floor original Pewabic tile, the bar top is made from wood the owners removed themselves from burned houses in Detroit. The place is full of old stuff like church pews, barrels from distillery’s like Old Grand Dad, Maker’s Mark and New Holland, fixtures were rescued from Salem Memorial Church in Detroit; it’s cozy and inviting. We take a couple of seats at the bar and check out the menu; one of the owners also owns the Bad Brads restaurants, that means the food should be tasty. 

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We study the rows of bottles while we wait for our lunch to arrive, a ladder mounted to rails allows bartenders to reach every bottle, Kris spots the Blanton’s and orders a shot. I guess you’d say the signature item on the menu is the Spamwich, don’t judge till you’ve tried it: panko coated and deep-fried Spam, golden hash browns, scrambled egg, pickles and spicy mayo on toasted ciabatta–it’s really good! We split the sandwich and the Michigan cherry salad; all the usual suspects– blue cheese crumbles, dried cherries, candied walnuts with greens and a very tasty vinaigrette. Housemade dressings and sauces, Guinness Stew, cheese soup and full entrees, definitely not the average bar food.

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At one time Mt Clemens was very wealthy, know for its mineral baths, there were 11 bath houses and several hotels at its peak. The bath houses operated from 1873 until the last one closed in 1974. There was a pottery factory that employed 1000 people and a train station, both closed now. The city is also the county seat of Macomb County, home to Circuit Court, Judicial Court and law offices, keeping it an active city. Neighborhoods are filled with beautiful historic homes; Cass, S Wilson, Moross and Belleview are some of our favorite streets— let’s go for a walk. I’d say the Tudor is the most popular architectural style, brick and trim color vary from house to house, several sport awnings. Mature trees line long neighborhood streets, urns, window boxes and planters overflow with colorful annuals. Well-kept front yards are the norm, many have lovely gardens, stars and stripes grace several front porches. Walkways in brick, stone and slate lead to elegant front doors, back yards are huge.

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Homes reflect a variety of time periods and styles; Tudor,Victorian, Colonial, Farmhouse, American Foursquare, Craftsman and even Mid-Century Modern, no two are the same! The Atwood House at 53 Moross erected in 1835 is thought to be the oldest house in Mt Clemens, possibly Macomb County. A wonderful example of Greek Revival, dark green shutters and blue porch ceilings accent the gorgeous white residence.Check out the French Chateau style house at 124 Belleview, it was built in 1932 of Bedford Indiana Limestone. The Charles E Doll house at 121 Belleview was built in 1926 and is a stunning example of the English Tudor, the lot backs to the Clinton River. Catty corner at 207 Moross sits a 1931 Tudor built by another member of the Doll family. I could go on and on, but instead, why not take a ride to Mt Clemens, park on one of the charming streets and experience it for yourself.

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