About the Ann Arbor, Dexter and Saline, Michigan Area
Nestled along the banks of the Huron River, the Village of Dexter is a friendly town of almost 2,800 residents located just minutes from the City of Ann Arbor, home of the premier University of Michigan. There are lovely family homes set in a classic small town environment where neighbors are friendly, schools are first rate, recreational opportunities abound and exciting attractions beckon.
In addition to four community parks located within the Village offering children’s playgrounds, sports courts and picnic pavilions, there are two river parks including Dexter Huron and Hudson Mills. Dexter Huron is a wooded 122-acre park with a baseball diamond and three reservable riverfront picnic shelters while Hudson Mills is a 1600-acre wooded area with picnic areas, an 18-hole golf course, a 48-hole disc golf course, play fields, a children's play area, nature trails and even a paved hike and bike trail.
Two local Washtenaw County Parks offer activities year round including canoeing, swimming, fishing, and cross-country skiing. There are 5 cross-country ski parks in the area and summer offers lake beaches at Big Portage Lake and Independence Lake. Half Moon Lake and Silver Lake have public beaches open all year long.
Take part in a well-organized community recreation program offered by the Dexter Parks Department. Play softball, basketball, volleyball and baseball, there are also swimming classes for adults and children. The more adventurous can get their thrills at the Extreme Sport Palace, a 24,000 square foot facility featuring two extreme-skating areas, one for younger/beginner skaters and one for more advanced skaters. Runners can join in on the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run hosted by the Ann Arbor Track Club. Run a marathon relay or take part in 5k events.
Stroll away the afternoon in Dexter where there's a passion for preserving and enjoying history and sharing it with the contemporary world. Downtown Dexter boasts boutiques, shops and restaurants that complement its charming, turn-of-the-century architecture but it’s all about enjoying the present away from city traffic and indoor malls.
There are eight local churches, a local history museum and thriving festivals and fun family activities. Town events include everything from performing arts festivals to country fairs. Don’t miss the yearly Dexter Pioneer Arts Fair, held each March when 100 artisans demonstrate and sell their traditional and ethnic crafts. Learn about quilting, rug hooking, woodcarving, lace making, calligraphy, basket weaving, stained glass, silk painting, jewellery making and purchase one-of-a-kind articles from their makers.
There’s an annual town clean up that brings people together to keep the village beautiful and Dexter Daze is an annual summer favourite offering a weekend of family-fun. Unfolding the first weekend in August, this festival offers arts and crafts, food vendors, children's entertainment, a parade and evening entertainment.
The Webster Fall Festival takes place on the spacious grounds of the Webster Township Historical Society and new Webster Township Hall. The day's events include pioneer craft demonstrations, a township-wide rummage/antique sale, country store, country craft show, pig roast as well as a display of antique cars and tractors. The year closes with the Dexter Victorian Christmas on the first two Saturdays in December when everyone goes carolling, you can take a sleigh rides and a photo with Santa all followed by a Holiday Light Parade.
Warm and inviting with a year round roster of exciting activities and places to discover, live the good life in the Village of Dexter.
Located in Washtenaw County, the Village of Dexter is set in the scenic southeast corner of Michigan. While it is considered a bedroom community of nearby Ann Arbor, Dexter respects its rural roots and takes every effort to preserve its small town atmosphere and its surrounding open space. It is surrounded by lakes including the Silver, Half Moon, North and West Lakes and touched by part of Four Mile, Portage and Base Lakes offering fabulous water views, recreational activities and living. Portage Lake is known as the "Saratoga of Michigan", named for the famous resort in New York.
Dexter is situated north on Baker road, just off the I-94 and bounded on the east by US-23 and on the west M-106. Ann Arbor and the renowned University of Michigan is 10 miles south, Saline is 13 miles north, Detroit and its big city attractions are 50 miles east and an easy hour drive on the I-94 while Toledo is 45 miles south on US-23. Chicago is 270 miles to the west on the I-94 and about a three-and-a-half hour drive.
Primary highway access to Dexter is via the I-94, Baker Road and Dexter-Pinckney Road. I-94 runs east-west, just south of the village, as part of its route between Detroit and Chicago. Baker Road runs south from the village, past I-94 to Jackson Road. Dexter-Pinckney Road runs west and then north from the village, into Livingston County.
Dexter is served by Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), located in Romulus, off the I-94, 50 miles east. DTW is the eighth busiest airport in the US and the major hub of Northwest Airlines, which carries approximately seventy-five percent of the passengers traveling in and out of the Detroit Metro Area. Easy and convenient commuter flights to major cities in the Northeast Region and along the East Coast are also available from nearby airports in Flint and Lansing.
Local private air service is available through Ann Arbor Airport, accommodating both private aircraft as well as helicopters while cargo service is available through Willow Run Airport, which sprawls across the Washtenaw-Wayne county border and is the third busiest air cargo terminal in the U.S.
Passenger rail service is provided via Amtrak, with a station located right in the heart of nearby Ann Arbor, which is the one stop in the county on the route between Detroit and Chicago. Amtrak's Michigan Services trains pass through the Ann Arbor Station on runs throughout the state and also connect the area conveniently to Illinois and Ohio. Michigan Services cover Chicago, Grand Rapids, Port Huron, and the Detroit Region. Train routes for getting around Michigan include the Pere Marquette offering daily service between Grand Rapids and Chicago, the Wolverine offering daily service between Pontiac and Chicago and the Blue Water offering daily service between Port Huron and Chicago. There are multiple departures daily from the Ann Arbor station with reserved coach and business class seating available. Freight service is available at the same station via the Ann Arbor Railroad.
Local bus service is available through AATA - The Ride, which operates 110 buses throughout the Ann Arbor area including Dexter, picking up passengers at more than 1500 stops. The AATA operates two transit centers including the Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor and the Ypsilanti Transit Center. Most bus routes originate at the BTC at 15 minutes after and 15 minutes before each hour. The AATA has been acclaimed as the best mid-size transit authority in the country and the current fare is $1.00 for adults and 50 cents for children.
Long-distance bus service is provided via the Greyhound station in Ann Arbor, local taxi service is available from Ann Arbor Taxi and shuttle service from Metro Airport is provided by Commuter Express vans.
While Native American tribes had lived in the area for thousands of years, the first settlers to Dexter came mainly from New York. Judge Samuel Dexter, scion of a very prominent Massachusetts family, founded the Village of Dexter in 1824 after he purchased the land where the Dover Mills were located. Shortly afterwards, several families joined him and there came to be a sense that they were building a permanent community. Two years later, Dexter became the first postmaster and soon after the first town meeting was held in his home in 1827 and the town’s land was officially plotted. By 1830 Dexter was a township and a school was established and in 1855, it officially incorporated as a village.
The early settlers farmed wheat; corn, barley, oats, clover and apples were grown in all parts of the township. The farms in the area were renowned for producing the best and greatest varieties of apples in the country.
Up until 1832 the original Township of Dexter governed the entire western half of Washtenaw County, plus parts of Jackson and Livingston Counties. This land that would later become Dexter, Scio, Webster, Lima, Freedom, Bridgewater, Manchester, Sharon, Sylvan, and Lyndon Townships.
Dexter was a hotbed of support for the abolition of slavery as well as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Judge Dexter’s wife Millicent Dexter and many other local women were very active in helping slaves to escape to freedom.
By the latter part of the 19th century the Village had several hotels, a very large flourmill, woollen mill, saw mill, grist mill, boat company, blacksmith shops, buggy factories, cabinet shops and several manufacturing concerns. The 125-year-old cider mill still operates in the fall of each year.
A Masonic Lodge and Opera House were built for plays, speeches and other entertainments. The railroad trestle leading out of town to the west was built by the first black engineer of the Michigan Central Railroad, as was the 150-year-old railroad bridge in Warrior Park, located just behind the present fire station.
The Business District grew on Main Street, which still retains window ornamentation and icons typical of architecture in the 19th century. The building still located on the corner of Main and Broad streets in the heart of the Village is one of the few buildings left in Michigan that is covered with its original tin.
Many beautiful churches and Victorian homes were constructed in Dexter the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Dexter evolved into the classic Midwestern small town and an ideal place for comfortable family living.
The Village of Dexter continues to be supported by a diverse economy plus its proximity to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan gives it a cosmopolitan allure uncommon for such a sweet, small town. Be sure to visit the wonderful Dexter Historical Museum that contains many interesting items unique to local history and interprets the Village’s progress from mill town to small town to desirable suburban community.
Dexter public schools serve a student body of 3,500 with one high school, two middle schools, one for grades 5-6 and the other for grades 7-8 and two elementary schools, one for k-2 and the other for grades 3-4. School facilities are modern and recently renovated and the curriculum includes math, science, social studies and language arts integrated into each day. Physical education, art, music, life skills, and technology programs are also available to every student on a six-week rotational basis.
Students with special needs are offered a variety of support services, such as special education, child study, counseling and individualized programming. Recent academic highlights include a grant to the district to implement an after school program to provide academic assistance to students who struggle, although most students in the district exceed the state average on standardized tests.
Dexter High School students’ accomplishments include the highest test scores in the area on the MEAP tests. Dexter High ACT scores averaged 23.7 compared with a state average of 21.4 and the national average 20.9. The Dexter High School Band has also been rated number one in every state competition.
Nearby Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, one of the most distinguished universities in the world and a leader in higher education. It is one of only two public institutions consistently ranked in the nation's top ten universities and boasts of one of the largest health care complexes in the world, the best university library system in the country and the some of the best computer access for students and faculty of any campus in the world.
Over 5,500 undergraduate courses are taught each term in over 100 programs. Undergraduate, graduate and professional students have a choice of 17 separate schools and colleges, 588 majors, over 600 student organizations, 350 concerts and recitals every year, as well as hundreds of speakers, symposia, films, and readings, many of which may also be attended by members of community as well. The University of Michigan is a vital part of the life of region and its worldwide reputation draws people from all parts of the globe creating a thrilling cosmopolitan mix that infuses the area with diversity. And cheering on the University of Michigan sports teams, especially the football team is a local tradition.
Other nearby colleges and universities include Washtenaw Community College, Cleary College and Concordia College in Ann Arbor as well as Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti with a renowned teacher-training program.
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