Looking Back: Haven hospital was former mansion

Rochester Post | Published October 9, 2013

 The Haven hospital was built as a private home for a cost of $35,000 during the 1920s.

The Haven hospital was built as a private home for a cost of $35,000 during the 1920s.

ROCHESTER HILLS — During the Roaring ’20s, two opulent private homes were constructed in what was then Avon Township.

While Matilda Dodge and Alfred Wilson were building the 100-room Meadow Brook Hall off Adams Road, industrialist Fred Shinnick and his wife, Lillian, began construction of an English manor house they named The Haven just a mile away.

Surrounded by formal gardens, a lake, a caretaker’s house and 77 acres, the palatial 30-room, red-brick Haven was built on the former Manwaring farm off Walton Boulevard for a cost of $350,000.

Shinnick, secretary-treasurer of Briggs Manufacturing, died in 1930. A group of doctors purchased The Haven and converted it into a mental health facility for the upper class. During the next 30 years, 7,000 wealthy patients — including rumored Hollywood stars — enjoyed care, luxurious dining and the grand setting of The Haven. 

In 1968, The Haven was sold for use as the center of an exclusive condominium community, but a zoning battle stalled the project. Vandals ravaged the mansion, and in 1973, the building burned to the ground. In the 1980s, the property was developed into the Grosse Pines residential neighborhood.

Today, almost all that remains of the former grandeur of The Haven is a ledge rock wall and gate flanked by tall pines — protecting the memories of a bygone era.

Do you own a piece of history? Send us your historically significant photos from around town, and we may be able to feature them in an upcoming edition of Looking Back. Email your photos to Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or call (586) 498-1065.