The park consists of nearly 300 acres of the original 725-acre Palmer estate laid out on a gently rolling wooded tract with two small lakes. Half was given to the city in 1893 by Thomas W. Palmer (1830–1913), a speculator in real estate and lumber; the other half was purchased by the city in 1920. A log house that had been the Palmers' summer and country retreat (1885, Mason and Rice) is within the park.
Across Ponchartrain Drive at 17911 Hamilton Drive is the Detroit Golf Club (1917, Albert Kahn), a low rambling clubhouse reminiscent of the cottages of the English countryside. The two eighteen-hole golf courses are surrounded by large, period revival houses.