Friday, November 6, 2009

Subdivision Stories: Christian Hills


The Christian Hills No.1 subdivision was platted on the north half of Section 20 of Avon Township in the spring of 1955. It was laid out on land owned by the Anchor Realty Corporation, whose president was Alfred G. Wilson. Wilson and his wife, Matilda (the former Mrs. John Dodge) owned Meadow Brook Stock Farm (which eventually became Oakland University) and the Christian Hills property was part of their extensive real estate holdings in the area. Wilson's Anchor Realty sold 265 acres between Crooks and Adams for development by Ranch Homes, Inc., of Birmingham, a company operated by three brothers named Alfred J., Thomas H. and Harry Macksey.

Ranch Homes opened Christian Hills No.1 to the public on April 15, 1955, by making four model homes available for inspection. Prices in the new subdivision ranged from $16,900 to $29,900 for the homes, depending upon the model selected from more than twenty options, plus an additional $2,800 to $5,000 for the lots, depending upon location.

Immediately after the opening of Christian Hills No.1, additional property acquired from Anchor Realty was platted as Christian Hills No.2. In August of 1955, property on the east side of Crooks Road was platted as Christian Hills No.3. Today, there are a total of 394 homes in the the three Christian Hills subdivisions.

The name of the subdivision has its roots in the earliest pioneer history of Avon Township. In 1822, only six years after the first non-native settlement in Oakland County was made by James Graham and his family, a pioneer settler named Smith Weeks purchased eighty acres of land in Section 20 and another 320 acres in Sections 19 and 29 of what would become the Township of Avon. An itinerant minister thought to have been the first Methodist clergyman in Oakland County, Weeks apparently had a very compelling personality and was known as an ardent preacher. Early settlers called his land “Christian Hills,” it is believed, in homage to the Reverend Weeks' dynamic pursuit of his vocation, and the name persisted through the years. A rural school located in the area, at Adams and Butler roads, was also named Christian Hills. Technically speaking, the land on which the Christian Hills subdivision stands today is slightly to the north and east of the property once owned by Smith Weeks, so the developers were exercising a small bit of license in adopting the historic name for their development.

Smith Weeks also served as a pathmaster of Avon Township, probate judge of Oakland County and as the first chaplain of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Michigan. He died in 1829 at the age of 69, but the name Christian Hills remains in use to this day, 180 years after his death.

This graphic is from a newspaper advertisement for Christian Hills that ran in the Rochester Clarion in the spring of 1955. I added color to the company logo to make it more readable.

3 comments:

  1. Rich and Elaine RudyOctober 12, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    Thanks for this great history of Christian Hills Sub. Not many other subs can claim historical roots to the owners of Meadowbrook Hall!
    My wife and I have lived in Christian Hills since 1994 and have found it to be friendly and welcoming. This location is the longest we have ever lived in one house since we married 40 years ago. We love Christian Hills and its residents.

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  2. What a great series! I was born and raised in Rochester, but never treated to these great stories from its history. Maybe you could do a "Subdivision Story" on Stratford Knolls, and where these streets like "Clair Hill" got their names or what West Middle School's pond and woods were once named?

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  3. I'm Keith Macksey, one of the sons of Thomas H. Macksey (mentioned in the story above). Dad and his brothers are all gone now . . . but, I'm sure they'd be honored and pleased to be recalled in this way.

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