This History-Rich Park in Michigan is So Amazing. Look How Scenic It Is!

October 13th, 2016

There are lots of beautiful parks, campsites, campgrounds and recreation areas in Michigan. According to the records, Michigan has 100 parks and recreation areas covering 285,000 acres (1,150 km²). There are 13,500 campsites in 142 campgrounds and 879 miles (1,400 km) of trails. These numbers are quite good indicator of the natural beauty of The Mitten State. It’s a great proof of how amazing Michigan is when it comes to beautiful places and must-visit destinations.

One of the picturesque parks to visit in Michigan is the McCourtie Park. Aside from its great charm and stunning beauty, this park also has a rich history that most Michiganders knows about.

The McCourtie Park  (W. H. L. McCourtie Estate and formerly known as Aiden Lair) is located at Somerset Center, Michigan. It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1991 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. This recreational park contains one of the country’s largest collection (if not the largest) of el trabejo rustico (faux bois), a Mexican folk art tradition where wet concrete is sculpted to look like wood.

According to the history books, this park is originally built as the estate for William H.L. “Herb” McCourtie, a Michigan cement tycoon (Trinity Portland Cement).  He purchased the 42-acre property in 1924 and turned it into “Aiden Lair,” a community center where he hosted multiple events.

Around 1930, McCourtie hired two artisans, George Cardoso and Ralph Corona, to build 17 concrete bridges at Aiden Lair, spanning the winding stream that flowed through the property. The Mexicans used a technique known as el trabejo rustico or faux bois in French. The cement wood-like structures on the property were completed between 1930 and 1933.

After McCourtie died (1933), the estate passed through multiple owners until it was made into a public park in 1987. The house inside the property was demolished but the cement sculptures, including the 17 beautiful bridges and underground garage and rathskeller, still remain.

The McCourtie Estate is now a free-for-all public park officially known as McCourtie Park. Aside from the history-rich concrete sculptures, the park now has three tennis courts, a fenced ball diamond, and a picnic area. It also features a stunning winding river and two beautiful ponds.

It’s a totally must visit park around Michigan that you or anyone will surely love.

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