Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tea and Tour at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Edsel Ford was the only child of automobile magnate and industrialist, Henry Ford.   Edsel married Eleanor Clay in 1916.  Construction of their home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan began in 1926, and they moved in Christmas 1929.
I have toured the mansion several times through the years,  but never tire of seeing it.  Yesterday, I returned with a girlfriend for a Christmas Tea and Tour.  The mansion was  elegantly decorated for Christmas in the same style that Eleanor  would have done it when she was alive.  
Main entrance to the mansion.  It is called the Gate Lodge and its architecture is compatible to the main house.  It contains three apartments that were used for staff and their families. 
We drove through the arch to the Activities/Welcome Center which houses the Cotswold Cafe, gift shoppe, and gallery rooms.  It's a relatively new addition to the property opening in 1990.
Once inside, there are portraits of Edsel and Eleanor Ford on each side of the doors. 

Edsel Ford  1893-1943
Eleanor Ford  1896-1976
The tour was scheduled for 3:00 p.m.  A shuttle transported us from the Activities Center to the main house.   Edsel and Eleanor traveled to England to see various styles of residential architecture before beginning construction on their home.  The area of the Cotswolds in County Gloucestershire appealed to them the most.   The mansion looks very much like a small village of Cotswold cottages built closely together.  Below is the front entrance.  The English ivy that covers the walls is dormant during the winter months.
Built on 87 acres, the 30,000 square foot house has sixty rooms, nine fireplaces, with  three stories and a basement.    It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and opened to the public in 1978.  The tour showcases 20 rooms.   No photography is allowed inside.
Following the tour of the mansion, the shuttle took us to Josephine's playhouse.  Josephine was Edsel and Eleanor's only daughter and on her 7th birthday her grandmother [Clara Ford] had the 500 square foot house built for her.  It consists of a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and a pine-paneled sitting room with fireplace.
After seeing the playhouse, we returned to the Cotswold Cafe in the Activity Center for Afternoon Tea.  Our table was ready and waiting for us.
I selected Jasmine Green Tea
We began with Blueberry Scones
Our savories were brought out individually:  Cucumber Sandwich; Wild Mushroom Tartlet;  Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad Bites; Asparagus and Red Pepper Canape; and Shrimp Crostini.
Before dessert we were served Champagne with a red raspberry.
Desserts were a Lemon Custard Tart with Blueberries; Peppermint White Chocolate Mousse Tart; and Chocolate Brownies.  As with the savories, each dessert was brought out individually - a serving style I had never seen before.
 [L-R]  Lori and me
It was a sell-out event, and the cafe was filled.
One last picture in front of the Christmas Tree in the Activity Center.

The end of a lovely afternoon!
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Today I am linking to Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday


  1. Dear Phyllis,
    What a wonderful day you had! I love learning and history-such fun to incorporate it with a lovely tea with a friend!
    Ruthie from: http://www.ladybstimefortea.blogspot.com

  2. Sounds like a fun afternoon and a great way to celebrate Christmas! My only thought about that style of service is, wow, what a lot of dishes they must have to wash! (But it does seem quite elegant.) And I wish I had that playhouse for my writing cottage!

  3. The mansion is really beautiful, Phyllis. It reminds me of the Salisbury House that I toured recently, which was built in the same era. Josephine's playhouse is amazing! Looks like you had a really good time too, and I enjoyed seeing the photo of you and your friend. You look lovely! Merry Christmas!

  4. Hello Phyllis
    I've been missing your tea posts and I do apologize; I'll have to visit Sandi's tea party more often.
    What an awesome place the Ford mansion is and I'm glad you showed us around, including the wonderful tea enjoyed with your friend.
    I love to get dressed up for an outing like this.

  5. Oh it does sound like a wonderful afternoon! What a beautiful home and darling playhouse! Thanks you for sharing the tea with us!

  6. What a fabulous place to have tea! A beautiful home, and I imagine it was a treat to see through it. The playhouse is adorable! Thank you for sharing this with us and have a lovely week, Phyllis.

    Christmas blessings to you and your family,

  7. I remember when you have visited here before, but the Christmas tea is very special. I have never seen tea served like that either. How interesting. At first I thought it was very skimpy, but then the plates must have just kept coming. Must have been alot of dishes to wash. How fun to visit the play house too. Did you get to step inside?

  8. Thank you for coming to Ford House and we are grateful that your experience was memorable and enjoyable! Looking forward to your return visit!

    Mark Heppner, VP for Historic Resources & Visitor Experience


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