Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

name = Meadow Brook Farms

name = Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

caption =
location = 1100 Lake Shore Dr.
Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
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architect = Albert Kahn
Jens Jensen
architecture = English Cotswold
built = 1927
added = 1979
refnum = 79001164
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governing_body = Private

In 1929 the Ford family moved into their new home, Meadow Brook Farms, designed by Albert Kahn on the shore of Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. Edsel Ford died in this house in 1943 and his wife lived there until her death in 1976. It was her wish that the property be used for "the benefit of the public." The [http://www.fordhouse.org Edsel & Eleanor Ford House] is now open to the public for tours. Located on 87 acres at 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan 48236, the house has a fine collection of original antiques and art, and beautiful lakefront grounds. The house currently hosts special events, classes and lectures, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.cite web|url=http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/detroit/d2.htm|title=Edsel and Eleanor Ford House|publisher=National Park Service|accessdate=2008-06-11]

Construction on the house began in 1926, after the Fords traveled with Kahn to England. There, they were attracted to the vernacular architecture of the Cotswolds and asked Kahn to design a house that would look like the closely assembled village cottages typical of the region. Kahn’s design included sandstone exterior walls, a traditional slate roof, with slates decreasing in size as they reach its peak, and moss and ivy grown across the house’s exterior. [Bridenstine, James (1989). "Edsel and Eleanor Ford House". Wayne State University Press. Pp. 12-13]

While construction of the house itself took only one year, two were spent fitting it with wood paneling and fireplaces brought from English houses; interior fittings were in the hands of Charles Roberson, an expert in adapting old paneling and fittings to American interiors. [Sources of interiors at Meadow Brook Farm are drawn from John Harris, "Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvages" 2007:213. ] The Gallery, the largest room in the house, is paneled with sixteenth-century oak linenfold paneling and a hooded chimneypiece from Wollaston Hall in Worcestershire, England; the timber-framed house had been demolished in 1925 and its dismantled fittings were in process of being dispersed. Fourteenth century stained-glass window medallions were added to the house in the late 1930s. [Bridenstine, Pg. 13] Roberson's barrel-vaulted ceiling for the Gallery was modeled on one at Boughton Malherbe, Kent. Paneling and doors in the Dining Room, entirely devoid of electricity, came from New Place, Upminster, [Harris 2007 documents the source in a Roberson brochure, p 213 and figs. 225-26.] a victim of the twentieth-century expansion of London. The Library's paneling and its stone chimneypiece came from the Brudenell seat, Deene Park, Northamptonshire. [Harris suggests that this already once removed paneling had come from another Brudenell seat] The Study has a wooden overmantel with the date 1585, from Heronden Hall, Kent. [Harris 2007.]

Other interesting design elements include kitchen counters made of sterling silver, a "secret" photographic darkroom behind a panel of Mr. Ford's office, and Art Deco rooms designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, a leading industrial designer of the 1930s. Teague’s first floor “Modern Room” features indirect lighting, taupe leather wall panels and a curved niche with eighteen vertical mirrored sections. [Bridenstine, Pg. 48] He also designed bedrooms and sitting rooms for all three of Edsel and Eleanor’s sons. Teague’s design for Henry Ford II’s bathroom includes grey glass walls made of the same structural glass as its shower stall. [Bridenstine, Pg. 68]

The house featured an extensive art collection, reflecting Edsel and Eleanor’s status as serious museum benefactors. After Mrs. Ford’s death, many important works were donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Reproductions were hung in their place. The French-styled Drawing Room features two original Paul Cezanne paintings and reproductions of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas works. [Bridenstine, Pg. 23] A reproduction of Vincent van Gogh's "The Postman Roulin" hangs in the Morning Room. [Bridenstine, Pg. 45] An original Diego Rivera, "Cactus on the Plains", hangs in the Modern Room. [Bridenstein, Pg. 45]

The grounds of the house include a power house and a gate house along affluent Lake Shore Road, often mistaken for the actual house. It includes apartments formerly used by staff and an eight-car garage with a turntable to rotate cars so they don’t need to back out. [Bridenstine, Pg. 81] The Recreation House beyond the man-made lagoon and swimming pool contains changing rooms and a squash court with spectator’s gallery. [Bridenstine, Pg. 81] Closer to the gate house is Josephine Ford’s child-sized playhouse, built for her by Clara Ford in 1930. It features working electricity and plumbing and an exterior decorated with characters from nursery rhymes. [Bridenstine, Pgs. 80-82]

See also

* Ford Family Tree


References and further reading

*A&E with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). "America's Castles: The Auto Baron Estates," "A&E Television Network".
* Bak, Richard (2003). "Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire". Wiley ISBN 0471234877
*Cite book|author=Bridenstine, James|title=Edsel and Eleanor Ford House|year=1989|publisher=Wayne State University Press|id=ISBN 0814321615
*Cite book | author=Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher | title= AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture| year=2002 | publisher= Wayne State University Press | id=ISBN 0-8143-3120-3
*Cite book | author=Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A.| title=Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition | year= 1980| publisher= Wayne State University Press| id = ISBN 0-8143-1651-4

External links

* [http://www.edsel.com/pages/edslford.htm Edsel Ford biography]
* [http://www.fordhouse.org/ Edsel & Eleanor Ford House]

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