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STEEPLES AND STONES AUTO TOUR

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On this country side tour, you will ride through some of the richest farmland in the Chelsea area, that first drew Yankee settlers from New York and New England in the 1820s and 1830s...then German immigrants forty years later. The glacial stones cleared from the fields were used to build many of the structures that you will see on this tour. The German settles made a lasting impression by naming roads, churches, schools and cemeteries, and cultivating large family farms. We invite you to experience this tour by bicycle or auto. NOTE: Some of the sites on the tour enable you to stop, park you vehicle and experience them firsthand. However, most of the sites are designate as "DRIVE-BY" locations only. Please respect the designations.

The main tour is approximately one hour in length and covers about 30 miles. The shorter loop is about 12 miles long, but slow.

BE CAUTIOUS for about half of your tour is on M-52, a heavily traveled highway, and other parts of the tour are travel roads. Jerusalem Road, one of the highlights of the main tour turns, jogs and twists frequently!

MAIN TOUR

As the name implies, this tour combines the natural attractions of the are, gently rolling rock hills, with its religious and ethnic heritage. That heritage can be seen in the cemeteries and the many stone buildings. ( MAP - 21KB )

1. Vermont Cemetery

A stone marker placed on this site commemorates "the pioneers of this region who came from Vermont in 1832". Motifs common in New England burial grounds are repeated on the tombstones here. Look for weeping willows, clasped hands and burial urns. An eerie image is engraved on William Arnold Davis' stone: a hand pointing upward with the words "meet me there" below. nearby, find the stone marking the grave a a child, a lamb. (STOP)

2. Rossettie Airport

Just before you read Pleasant Lake Road, you'll see Rossettie Airport...if you look close. The Rossetties also operate a working farm. Behind the outbuildings is a 2,000 foot grass runway and two hangars. The airport houses both airplanes and gliders. Look up! Occasionally, you will see a glider slowly circling the crossroads, riding the air currents like a snow-white eagle. (DRIVE-BY)

3. Sharon United Methodist Church

This charming little red brick church, dated 1876, was once called "Salems Kirche" or Salems Church by its German congregation. (Note the three stage brick steeple, you will have a chance to compare it with the steeple on the next brick church.) Tombstones in the nearby cemetery are etched in the German language. The floral motifs exhibit the German stonecutters's skill. To the west lies an earlier cemetery, final resting place of the Yankee settlers. near the center stands the highly polished grey granite stone honoring the Gilbert Rowe family, "Pioneers of Sharon 1831." In their honor, this crossroads is know locally as Rowe's Corners. (STOP)

4. Old Zion Lutheran Church

This red brick structure, similar to Sharon United Methodist Church, was erected by German settlers in 1867. In 1917, a tornado ripped off the steeple, it was replaced by the shorter wood shingled version that you see today. The church cemetery, located just west of the church, has tombstones inscribed in German, and includes the plots of families who gave their names to roads in the area, Eisman and Eschelbach. Notice too, how close the buildings are at the crossroad; the church complex and the homes once formed a settlement called Rodgers Corners.(STOP)

5. St. John's United Church of Christ

This snow-white frame church is unusual in this area because of its New England style, with side steeple and tall narrow doorways. It was erected by German settlers in 1892. (STOP)

As you continue north on Fletcher Road, notice two barns on the farmstead near the second bend in the road. One is a New England-style barn, probably built in the 1840s by Yankee settlers, distinguishable by its gable roof. The other is a gambrel0roofed barn, probably built by the second wave o settlers, the Germans, in the latter half of the nineteenth century. (DRIVE-BY)

When you reach Scio Church Road, turn right.

6. Sutton's Lake

The Greek Revival style farmstead was constructed of fieldstone, gathered from the surrounding fields in the process of making the rich land suitable for farming.

Waterfowl, mainly Canada geese, mallards, and scaup, congregate here is the spring and fall. Even grebes, loons and a solitary osprey may also be seen here on occasion. for a closer look, drive a few hundred feet down Guenther Road. Be careful not to trespass on private property. Recent construction on the shores of the lake has added more of the human element to this natural area. (DRIVE-BY)

Continue east on Scio-Church Road until you reach Parker Road. Turn left. When you reach Jerusalem Road, turn left again.

Majestic oaks create a canopy overhead as you drive along this gravel road. On this route you will see houses built completely of stone, countless barns with stone foundations, and wooden frame houses with stone porches. Local legend has it that Irish stone masons who constructed the Erie Canal moved westward and built the cobblestone houses we see in southern Michigan.

7. 8805 Jerusalem Road

This green-shuttered, dressed fieldstone house was built in the Federal style. Above the windows are brick lintels, brick quoins define the corners. A lean-to addition in the rear gives the house the look of a New England saltbox. (DRIVE-BY)

Jog quickly left onto Dancer Road and back onto Jerusalem Road.

8. 10725 Jerusalem Road

This is the one example of a true cobblestone house on Jerusalem Road, that is, the stones are small and rounded and laid in neat courses like bricks. The quoins were cut from granite fieldstone boulders. A small stone carriage house and cooling house were executed in cobblestone as well and were attached to the main structure. The white wooden porch in the Italianate style was a later addition. Notice the barn across the road, it is said to be one of the longest in Washtenaw County. (DRIVE-BY)

Jog quickly right onto Fletcher and back onto Jerusalem Road.

9. Renaissance Morgan Farm

This farm is one of the area's largest breeders of Morgan horses, good-natured, intelligent horses with dark brown or chestnut coats. The breed is a versatile one, used for riding, pulling carriages, farm labor and cattle cutting-named for justin Morgan around 1795. Look closely, they may be grazing in the field as you drive by. (DRIVE-BY)

10. 13660 Jerusalem Road

This handsome structure was executed in the Federal style and features end chimneys and a plain facade. It does, however, have an offset entrance which is unusual for Federal style symmetry. The window arches are an excellent example of the high level of craftsmanship brought to the area from Europe. (DRIVE-BY)

11. 14200 Jerusalem Road

This blockhouse-shaped structure is the most unusual-looking on the road. It was built of crude blocks of fieldstone with stone quoins with wooden window lintels and sills. (DRIVE-BY)

12. 14325 Jerusalem Road

This Dutch Colonial Revival house is distinguished by its gambrel or barn0like roof. The first floor was constructed of stone cut from boulders, with fieldstone quoins. (DRIVE-BY)


SIDE TOUR

A. Clements Cemetery

As you wander this cemetery, you will notice, as in Vermont Cemetery on the main tour, the tombstones of early Yankee settlers. Some of the more familiar names include Parker, Luick and Dancer, names also to be found on nearby road signs. The clasped hands and willow motifs are repeated here as well. (STOP)

B. Old Inter-Urban Generating Station

Travelers often speculate that this structure was a fire station because of the tall tower! Actually, it generated electricity to power the Inter-Urban street car line that ran from Ypsilanti to Jackson via Ann Arbor in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It is the only generating station still in existence in the county, and is now a private residence. Harold and Mary Ann Gracey ran a general store and service station there until I-94 was built and traffic bypassed it. This crossroads is still know locally as Lima Center. (DRIVE-BY)

Continue west on Old U.S. 12 until you reach M-52 again, just outside of Chelsea. You'll know you're getting close to Chelsea when you begin to see churches, half a dozen may be found between here and the village. This is a busy road on Sunday morning!

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