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Inner Dearborn: (Un)common Area

With local events, beautiful gardens and a secret park or two, Dearborn's Springwells Park make residents never want to leave.

The Geiger family loves the Springwells Park neighborhood so much they’ve bought two homes there–the second three doors away from the first, in the same ducky cul-de-sac.

When a house came on the market that Brenda Geiger loved, she convinced her husband Tim they should make an offer. After all, they loved the neighborhood, but needed more room for their growing sons. No moving van was necessary. One Saturday morning sons Matt and Luke woke up as usual–and went to bed that night in their new room up the street.

Brenda points out that they are not unique: “Believe it or not, we are not the only neighbors who moved from one house to another. Many residents don't leave, and there are still a few original owners left.”

There’s a real “hometown” feel about the Springwells Park neighborhood. Still, residents have access to “big city” services–libraries, stores, cultural experiences and the diversity which abounds in urban living.

If central casting were scouting locations to film the “All-American Neighborhood” this subdivision would indeed qualify. The multi-hued, tasteful homes all share a mid-century style, but each boasts a unique element of its own. Some are built into hillsides; others have latticed side porches, sunrooms, porticos, period lighting, window boxes, tiered gardens and other unique details.

Here there are more cul-de-sacs per capita than any other area in town–each planted with its own flagpole. Neighbors fill the islands with colorful flowers each spring and fall.   

They even have a unique zip code: 48120. And the streets are named in alphabetical order.

The self-containment and pride of ownership makes for a cozy feel. Winding communal sidewalks run alongside homes, joining neighbors to the front and back. Some are bordered with picket railings.

Newly emancipated offspring have been known to relocate not far from their folks–the area has homes of varying shapes and affordability.

Brenda points out, “You know your neighbors three blocks away.” 

Springwells has a rich history. Initially slotted as a setting for the Detroit Zoo, the land was sold to Henry and Clara Ford. Later developed as Springwells Park by the Ford Foundation, new home buyers were attracted by the curved streets, giant trees and hidden gems like Bennington Park. They’ve remained because of the collective sense of community.

Somewhere deep within the winding streets is found a secret park. The exact location is a careful secret amongst Springwellians. A painted split-railed fence outlines a paved path framed by a tunnel of trees. Emerging from the cool, shaded path, a huge, sunny, pie-shaped grass field is topped by a play area and bench.  Not fancy, but a great place to meet fellow inhabitants. 

Springwells is a busy place. Annual events traditionally include an Easter egg hunt, Santa trolley, flower sale, garage sale, neighborhood picnic and bike parade. The Geigers enjoy the official events as well as unofficial TGIF celebrations and book club gatherings. 

One of the official events takes place this Saturday: The Springwells Park Association opens its collective doors  for a .

One of the attractions of Dearborn is its plethora of diverse districts, each with a special character, but all united by a common familial feel. Come take a look at this unique corner of Dearborn near the intersection of Greenfield and Rotunda Drive. Wind your way through this lovely neighborhood.

Who knows–you just might find a secret park or two.

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