Fuerst farm Novi

The Jacob and Rebecca Fuerst Farmstead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of Historic Sites. Improvements have been made by volunteers with support provided by local businesses and private organizations.

Scott Harrison Dunham
Scott Harrison Dunham
Scott Harrison Dunham, the son of James and Minnie Dunham, grew up on what is now the Fuerst Farmstead. Dunham died a hero’s death in France, the only Novi soldier in World War I known not to return. He was sent overseas and was a runner with the 32nd Infantry Division and died on October 15, 1918 in the Argonne Forest, France while carrying dispatches as a runner. He was killed by artillery during a heavy barrage. After Scott’s death, the Dunhams put the farm up for sale. Jacob Fuerst and his second wife, Rebecca Raupp, reassemble the original 160 acres and establish the Fuerst Farmstead for their family of two sons and four daughters. 
The Fuerst Sisters

The Fuerst Farmstead is known for its last owners, sisters Ruby and Iva Fuerst, who lived in their family home until their deaths in 1991. The farm property has had a long and rich history that parallels the growth of Novi as a community.

The property is now owned by the City of Novi and plans are underway for its restoration, rehabilitation and reuse as a community facility for educational and recreational purposes. At this time the buildings are closed, but the gardens and walkways are open to the public. The HouseThe Fuersts built this Arts and Crafts style bungalow in 1930.  They utilized the cobblestone foundation of an existing Greek Revival house which this house replaced. The bungalow features fieldstone in a distinctive pattern in the chimney and in the foundation and supporting pillars of the porch. The windows that once flanked the chimney, the glass in the interior French doors separating the living and dining rooms, and in the doors to built-in bookcases on either side of the stone fireplace, were all of matched beveled glass design. Art Nouveau wall sconces line the living room walls and match a ceiling fixture in the dining room. Art Deco brass hardware accents the dark wood trim throughout the house.  All are original to the house.  Additional rooms on the first floor include a bathroom, two bedrooms and a kitchen.  There are four bedrooms and a sleeping porch on the second floor and access to the attic. Windows, doors, shelving and wood trim recycled by the Fuersts from the original house can be seen in the basement. The Barns and OutbuildingsThere are three barns remaining on the property.  The largest barn was used to house cattle and store hay.  The second argest is a four-stall horse barn with a grain storage area.  It has an attached milk-house. The third barn was used to store farm machinery. 
A fourth barn, built in 1876, was destroyed by arson.  An outhouse, a pump house, and two dog houses are clustered near the house. The smokehouse which was previously on the site was lost to damage by landscaping contractors. The chicken coop is no longer standing but is still on the site. The Orchard and GardensApple and pear trees still stand and produce fine fruit every year.  The Fuersts were wonderful gardeners whose handiwork can still be seen from earliest spring through the fall: the wildflowers they cultivated, the many tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs they planted, the large lilac bushes and the raspberry patch growing in the orchard near a small grove of black walnut trees.  The fragrant bush and climbing roses the Fuersts favored are gone, but those too may be restored soon. Fuerst Farmstead BrochureView a brochure created by the Novi Historical Commission about the Fuerst Farmstead. Local History Counts!Other local communities appreciate how preserving local historical buildings and sites benefit their community. Read these articles to see how other communities are saving their local history.Thayer’s Corner Nature Area wins Barn of the Year for 2008Saline Farm may get Historic Status Historical MarkerA state historical marker is located south of the Farmhouse. The following is the text on the marker. Jacob and Rebecca Fuerst Farmstead

In 1827, Gamaliel Simmons of New York purchased 160 acres of land from the Federal government in what was then Farmington Township. In 1830 the first Novi town meeting was held in the Simmon’s residence, a Greek Revival structure that stood on this site until the current house was built in 1931. The basement of this house contains the cellar of the Simmon’s house and incorporates salvaged doors and trim in the interior. The farm had several owners until Jacob and Rebecca Fuerst of Greenfield Township bought it in 1918. The north barn was built by the Dennis family, which owned the farm from 1836 to 1898. One of Novi’s last farm complexes, the site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Jacob and Rebecca Fuerst purchased this farm in 1918. The Fuersts and their six children expanded the existing orchards to encompass most of their 160 acres. They joined the Erwin and Simmons families and others in establishing Novi as a major fruit grower. Their product included apples, peaches, plums and pears, along with butter and eggs. The large east and south barns, built during the 1920s and the 1931 Craftsman style house testify to the growth of the Fuerst enterprise. In 1973 the Fuersts’ daughters Ruby and Iva sold their property to Novi Schools, stipulating that it be held for public use. The sisters lived in the house until their deaths in 1991. The farmstead was purchased by the city of Novi in 1997.   


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