GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 83

Old French Pear Trees of Grosse Pointe
The Grosse Pointe Historical Society continues to grow – by the
end of December 2009 we had 842 active members – an increase of
79 members since the end of 2008.
Our 2009 Annual Appeal was a great success – and is still ongoing.
You will find a listing of all donors on our website. Please visit
to view.
Your generosity and support is greatly appreciated. All funds
will be directed to programs, facilities, events and collections.
We thank the following for donations received between July and
December 2009.
News from the Alfred B. and Ruth S. Moran Resource Center
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Liggett
-and all
Party of the Century
Wilkinson Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Palms
Mrs. Sara Ralph
In-kind donations:
Mr. Larry Baranski
Mr. and Mrs. A. Bayster
Mrs. Ann Bushman
Mr. Michael B. Carrier
Mr.Thomas Coles
From the Director
This has been a challenging year finan-
cially for the Grosse Pointe Historical So-
ciety.We appreciate the positive response to
our 2009 Annual Appeal and for all private
donations sent to support our educational
programs, collections, building maintenance
and operating expenses. It is interesting to
note that our active membership numbers
are up by 79 members since 2008. However,
the overall dues received are down from
the previous year. On the positive side, it is
heartening to see that people are interested
in our organization and what we do for the
community. Please remember that donations
are the main source of income for the
Society. We count on you to help keep us
moving forward. The Annual Appeal is
ongoing and donations may be made any
time of year by mail, in person or via the
GPHS website.Thank you for your support!
La Belle’s Country Store is open every
Wednesday and Saturday afternoon from
1 to 4 p.m. We have been refilling the
shelves with popular standbys like French
jams, local honey, scented soaps and black
squirrels (our store mascot). We invite you
to stop by to see our new offerings including
beeswax candles handmade by Green Toe
Gardens (producer of the local honeys we
sell) and books from Wayne State Univer-
sity Press such as
The Guardian Building
and Frontier Metropolis.
In addition, Ann
Marie Aliotta and Suzy Berschback have
authored a new Arcadia Book called
Pointe War Memorial
available in March.
We also sell CD’s produced by two local
groups dedicated to early Detroit/American
music –
Le Compagnie
with Genot Picor
Lac La Belle
featuring Grosse Pointe’s
own Joel Peterson. Many more new items
are expected to arrive this spring. We hope
to see you soon.
Ms. Eugenie Durant
Ms. Katie Gacobelli
Mr. and Mrs. Julius Huebner
Mrs. Lynne Millies
Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Praiss
Production Modeling Corp.
Mrs. Donna Reynolds
Mrs. Frederick Seltzer
Mrs. and Mrs. Michael Skinner
Mrs. Elizabeth Soby
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sullivan III
Mrs. Mary Vitolins
French pear tree
at Speck estate
, Lake
Shore Road, c.
“But the crowning glory of the French orchard was the pear tree. Nearly every home-
stead possessed one, some two or three, few exceeded a half-dozen. Such was its
wonderful size and productiveness that one specimen usually amply satisfied the wants
of a family…Many show a circumference of trunk of eight or nine feet and rear their
lofty heads seventy sometimes eighty feet from the earth. They bear uniform crops;
thirty to fifty bushels being often the annual product of a single tree. The fruit is of
medium size, ripening about the end of August…The flesh is crisp, juicy, sweet and
spicy. For stewing and preserving it is quite unrivaled.”
-History of Wayne County and the City of Detroit, Michigan, volume II, 1930
Much has been written about the famed French pear trees of
Grosse Pointe over the years. Their size, age and productivity even
made an impact back in 1930. It’s hard to imagine that several
survive today, still bearing fruit, some as old as 300 years. These
trees are not native to this area and, it is claimed, they would not
grow in any other location outside of Grosse Pointe, Detroit and
Monroe. The French originally brought these seeds and saplings
from Montreal via France during the time of Louis XIV.
As we slowly lose these great trees due to age, weather
damage and disease, the community has come together document-
ing tree locations through the Pear Tree Chapter of the Questers
and Grosse Pointe Historical Society. Whenever possible, the trees
have been treated to prolong their lives. It has been a losing battle
until David Milarch, founder of The Champion Tree Project, offered
a glimmer of hope. This visit was organized by Alan Marschke and
it was funded by Tom and Jean Baumgarten and Mark and Molly
Valade. Milarch heads a program cloning heritage trees, a tech-
nique to preserve historic trees through new technology. Clippings
were taken from the surviving Windmill Pointe pear tree and three
forms of cloning were utilized to help guarantee healthy new trees
for future plantings in Grosse Pointe. Twelve viable clones have
been produced to be planted in the next year or two. These will be
100% genetic matches to the original tree. These genetic clones will
yield healthy, strong and long-lived trees to be introduced back into
the community to thrive for the next 300 years as examples of living
history from our colonial past.
In respect to this fascinating history, old-fashioned apple, pear, walnut
jam from France is available for purchase at La Belle’s Country Store.
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