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What's in Park's backyard


September 27, 2012
The significance of pre-Grosse Pointe Park, or the Village of Fairview, is explored in author Nick Sinicori's book, "Men, Horses, and Machines — A Journey Through Automotive and Horse-racing History in Detroit."

In a Saturday, Oct. 6, lecture, Sinicori talks about his book's probe into how the influence of politics, religion, horse racing and money combined to change Detroit's horse culture into an automobile era, Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club, 655 Cook, Grosse Pointe Woods. Guests can have cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner is at 6 p.m. and the lecture begins at 7 p.m. The cost is $25.

"People are generally interested in local history," Sinicori said. "Those who have heard rumors, gossip, they want the first-hand story of what existed here. They are surprised when they find out what is in their backyard."

Fairview was founded in 1903, straddling Detroit and what is now the Park and Patterson Park. More accurately it stretched from Water-works Park to Cadieux and Mack Avenue to the Detroit River.

Fairview's historical significance is centered around the auto industry. On Oct. 10, 1901, Henry Ford took his early model car to the race track for a spin. Since it was Michigan's first automobile race it drew 8,000 people, he said.

He said the information in his book was gathered through newspaper accounts, books from the Ford Motor Company and research from horse racing periodicals.

Sinicori narrates an Oct. 27 tour, offered at 9 a.m., noon or 3 p.m. Guests can see:

* the horse racing and automotive alley of the early 1900s;

* original sites of the Detroit Jockey Club and Detroit Driving Club;

* an ancient Native American burial ground;

* houses of Belgian, arts and crafts and River-Rock architectural influence near Harbor Island;

* Indian Village where prominent auto-barons lived at the turn of the century;

* a tour of Lawrence Fisher's mansion.

Reservations for the dinner must be made by Thursday, Oct. 4, by calling the Grosse Pointe Historical Society at (313) 884-7010.

For more information about the tours, call Moira Mahoney, director of marketing and development, at (586) 777-3506.

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