Clarkston, Mi - hip yet quaint

Up the street there is another resto, under same management, that often has people lined up to taste its succulent barbecue fare – Union Woodshop, with an accompanying store, and a lively bar on the second floor.

“This is not a theme park," Union Woodshop's website says. "This is a place that won't settle until it settles a craving."

Across the street is a deli, Rudy’s Market, which sells high end food and wine.

With its stone façade it plays off its former auto garage pedigree.

Meanwhile along the few blocks of the downtown visitors can easily stroll among several nifty boutiques.

Clarkston is easy to get to from Windsor.

Just drive up I-75 past Pontiac and Auburn Hills - just past DTE Energy Music Theatre - take the Clarkston exit, hang a left over the bridge and you can already start seeing the downtown hubbub, featuring buildings dating from the 19th century.

The drive into town has grand old houses, many flying Old Glory and red white and blue bunting, giving the appearance of an all American town.

As well, Clarkston has something you won’t find in many place – anywhere – anymore.

These are large square blocks (picture above) that old timers used to use to get on and off horse-drawn carriages.

They’re located on Main and neighbouring Holcomb streets.

But this village, with its stately grounds, may never have been preserved.

In the 1970s authorities wanted to widen the Main Street to four lanes.

“And that would have totally destroyed the look of the town,” Clarkston Heritage Museum director Toni Smith said.

Residents fought back and that was really the beginning of an effort to preserve the town’s heritage buildings.

In 1980 Congress granted Clarkston national historic district status.

Henry Ford – yes, that guy – spent a lot of time in Clarkston.

In many ways Clarkston is the quintessential “Ford Village Industries” town.

Ford set up workshops in communities around Detroit.

But in Clarkston he created an upholstery factory, the Mill Pond dam, a tractor school, and a mill building.

There are historical “wayside” signs along the streets guiding you on a walking tour of the sites.

But the “stepping rocks” are one of the most fascinating objects.

“At one point we were a very popular tourist destination so there would have been carriages going up and down the street,” Smith said. 

“We were a popular stop because we have a lot of lakes.” 

One the stones even has a metal ring attached where people would tie their horses.

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