Designed by Colonel James Lewis Glen of Niles Michigan, the cemetery design reflects the "rural" or "garden" style popular in American cemetery design from the 1840's. Highland is one of three "garden" style cemeteries that he designed; Forest Hill in Ann Arbor, Silver Brook in Niles and Highland in 1863-1864.
The cemetery is an attractive place to visit throughout the year. Its own seasonal beauty provides links with the natural ebbs and flows of life. The cemetery is home to a great number of birds and wildlife. It is not unusual to find at least a half dozen whitetail deer living on and around the property. These provide endless opportunities for observation by school children and adult enthusiasts. It has a rich array of plantings, including those native to this part of Michigan. The Michigan Conservancy has cataloged the flora, making a visit to Highland a treat for visitors.
The buildings and monuments in Highland cemetery reflect the great span of human civilization in their architectural styles. These styles reflect ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome with the great obelisks, urns, and columns that decorate many of the monuments. The massive stonework of the Romanesque and Gothic sit side-by-side along with the dark Victorian stones and the fragile and simple markers of the early 19th Century. Fanciful "rustic" markers in the shape of tree stumps and tree trunks, draped urns, closed books, cherubs, lambs and dogs are scattered throughout the garden-like grounds.