The very first cottage at Highland Park worked with the park's natural beauty

In her book, The Historic Cottages of Highland Park, Karen Lowe explores the history of this unique enclave along the shores of Lake Michigan. Highland Park sits near the Grand Haven State Park with Lake Avenue to the north and Grand Avenue to the south. Our series will offer excerpts from the book. For more information or to buy a copy of the book, visit or any local bookseller.

Highland Park's history stretches back to 1887.

The cottage Loch Hame was the first to be built in Highland Park. It was built by Mrs. Sarah Benedict Rhines Saunders in the spring of 1887. According to a local historian, Sarah Rhines Saunders ‘…chose to build the cottage very near a choice oak tree. Rather than sacrifice the tree, she built the porch around the tree’s trunk.

Sarah Benedict Rhines was widowed during the Civil War, shortly after the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Rhines. She met and married widower Dr. William Saunders in 1877. Dr. Saunders was a prominent physician who served as Health Officer for the city of Grand Rapids Board of Health. The Saunders’ named their new cottage in Highland Park Loch Hame' (Gaelic for 'Lake Home'), perhaps as a salute to the Scottish heritage of both William Saunders and Sarah (Benedict) Saunders.

(Right) Sarah (Benedict) Rhines Saunders and her daughter (Left) Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ (Rhines) McCarthy
The Saunders family would later build a cottage on the lot to the west of Loch Hame for their son Louis Benedict Saunders (now called ‘The Station’ at 1408 Lake Avenue). The cottage Loch Hame remained in the original owner’s family, handed down from mother to daughter for four generations, until it was sold in 1998.

The Station

The cottage at 1408 Lake Avenue was built around 1893 and its first owner of The Station was the Saunders family of Grand Rapids: Dr. William G. Saunders, his wife Sarah (Benedict) Rhines-Saunders and their only son Louis Benedict Saunders. Both William G. Saunders and Sarah Benedict Rhines Saunders were widowed and both had children from their first marriages. In fact, Dr. and Mrs. Saunders built the first cottage in Highland Park (Loch Hame) in the spring of 1887 for Mrs. Saunders’ daughter, Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Rhines) McCarthy. William Saunders’ sister-in-law, Abigail Saunders, and his niece, Velma (Saunders) McCormick also built cottages nearby in Highland Park (Aksarben and Camp Forest).

Dr. William G. Saunders (1827-1903) First owner of The Station and step-father of Elizabeth (Rhines) McCarthy, first owner of Loch Hame
Dr. William G. Saunders (1827-1903) graduated from the Philadelphia College of Medicine and Surgery in 1852. In the 1929 Directory of Deceased American Physicians, Dr. Saunders is listed as practicing ‘allopathic’ medicine, which was a pejorative term used at the time to refer to what we now call Western medicine or modern medicine (vs. homeopathic medicine.) In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Saunders was appointed deputy U.S. Marshall in 1858 in Battle Creek and to the post City Physician of Grand Rapids in 1873. In his later years, Dr. Saunders also served as Justice of the Peace in Kent County.

Prior to her election to Grand Haven City Council, Karen Lowe served as commissioner on the city’s Historic Conservation District Commission. She holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in nursing from the University of Illinois. Recently retired, she was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a vice president and general manager at IBM.
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