The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission retained Cooper Design, Inc. and Beckett & Raeder, Inc. to evaluate an historic Henry Ford mill for adaptive reuse as an interpretive display and county park. The site is situated in Sharon Township along the River Raisin, and is almost entirely within the 100-year floodplain, with much of the site being wooded wetland. Beckett & Raeder, Inc. and Cooper Design, Inc. architects prepared both the master plan as well as the detailed design and construction drawings for the project.
The master plan included restoration of the mill, the machine shop, as well as the dam overlook and footbridge. Additionally, parking for twenty cars, two pedestrian bridges, a custom pergola and brick terrace for outdoor weddings, a custom Greek Revival influenced picnic shelter, canoe take-outs and launches, a custom Greek Revival restroom building and a brick visitor terrace were incorporated into the plans.
Challenges faced during this project included working on a site with wetlands and within the floodplain, difficulty obtaining adequate sight distances for drive approaches, creating barrier free access, and finding suitable soils to support a septic field for the existing building and new park restroom building. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all was accommodating the restrictions placed on the site by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources, and County Road Commission, while still protecting the historic character of the site and buildings. Due to the diligence of the County Park Commission, the mill will be appreciated for generations to come.