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Stone Fireplace and Root Cellar

The plaque reads:

The stone fireplace and root cellar are the remains of a homestead farm built by the Guinan family in the latter half of the 19th century.  John Guinan, born in Ireland in 1815, emigrated to America with his wife, Bridget, at the height of the Great Potato Famine, during which nearly one million Irish died and another million fled.


By 1851, John and Bridget, now naturalized citizens of the United States, settled in Dexter, where they carved their little farm out of the far-reaching forests of the Michigan wilderness.  There, they raised a family of three boys and one girl: Thomas, John Jr., James, and Mary.  John supported this growing family by raising sheep and selling the wool, along with a small subsistence farm on the land overlooking Pickerel Lake.


John Guinan died in 1900 at the age of 86.  His eldest son, Thomas, had taken over the farm, and after his father's death, he sold the land to John Fritz and his wife, Jessie.


John Fritz was an up-and-coming young banker in the burgeoning city of Ann Arbor when he bought the rural property from the Guinans.  It became a comforting weekend retreat for the family of three, with the birth of their daughter Nancy in 1925.


By 1949, with the house in a state of disrepair, and the forest slowly reclaiming the surrounding land, the Fritz's sold the property to the Department of Natural Resources, which added it to a growing patchwork of state park land in southeast Michigan.


The Silver Lake Trail currently runs through the remains of the farm, signaling the culminating development of the property on which you now stand.  From the golden age of immigration to the emergence of an age of leisure to the final evolution as a recreation area for those in the growing urban centers of southeast Michigan, this land represents a fundamental part of the ever-unfolding story of America.

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