Thursday, June 30, 2016

Presentation at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

I was contacted last December to speak at an Afternoon Tea for a group of ladies from St. Clair Shores Adult and Community Education.  The date was scheduled for May 26th at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House estate. I titled my presentation "Connections" - sharing information connecting J.L. Hudson, Clara Bryant Ford, and Eleanor Clay Ford.

I had done presentations on J.L. Hudson and Clara Bryant Ford previously, but finding written information about Eleanor Clay Ford was a challenge.  I wondered why no one has written a book about her life. Thanks to help from the Vice President for Historic Resources at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, I gathered enough information for my presentation.

I was asked to make favors for the 62 attendees to accompany my presentation.  Henry and Clara Ford were avid bird watchers, as were Edsel and Eleanor, so I decided bird favors would be appropriate.  I hot glued crafting birds onto clusters of twigs, and was pleased with the result.  I put one at each place setting.  Ironically, as I spoke about Clara and Henry's love for birds, a 'choir' of them outside the tent began to sing and chirp as if to verify what I was saying.  Their timing was perfect, and the ladies loved it. 

I arrived at the Visitor Center at noon.  Inside are Cotswold Café and banquet facilities, but it was decided the tea would be held in the adjoining tent.  It was a hot and humid day, so the tent was hot without any fans to circulate the air, but we managed.

~ The event was well attended. ~

To my delight I met two friends from the church where I used to work and attend.

[Nancy and Rhonda]

The tea meal was lovely.  Scones first, then savories and sandwiches.  A selection of tea bags were offered, with pots of hot water on the tables.

Next to my scone was an open-faced Caprese sandwich - Mozzarella Cheese with Basil Pesto, and a Cherry Tomato half.

~ Grilled Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Crostini ~

~ Sherried Mushrooms in Puff Pastry Tartlets ~

~ Chicken Salad on Crackers, and Salmon Salad on Baguette Slices ~

~ Desserts - Lemon Triangles ~

~ Chocolate Mousse in Tart Shells ~

~ Strawberry Shortcake Stacks ~

Then it was time for me to speak.  Between the heat and full tummies I wondered if it would be difficult to hold the ladies' attention, but they were very attentive and a delight to speak to. Notice the beautiful tulip garden that was my backdrop.

My daughter and I have plans to return to Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in mid-July to see their exhibit that just opened on June 26th titled, "A Century of Love" honoring Edsel and Eleanor's upcoming 100th Wedding Anniversary.  I'll be sure to blog about it.

A life-sized bronze sculpture of Edsel and Eleanor walking arm-in-arm in their garden was recently unveiled on June 13th.  I can hardly wait to see it in person.  It was the idea of their grandson, Edsel Ford, II.

[Ford House Photo]

The exhibit will highlight wedding traditions and trends over the last century through four generations of Ford family weddings.  Visitors will see bouquets, wedding cakes - including an original slice of Edsel and Eleanor's wedding cake - 14 wedding gowns and accessories worn by several Ford women, all on display for the first time.

Local readers, don't miss this exhibit that runs through November 6th.

I included in my presentation that Edsel and Eleanor were married in the home of J.L. Hudson [Eleanor's deceased Uncle and founder of Detroit's iconic Hudson's Department Store] in front of the library's beautiful oak fireplace.  

[Ford House Photo]

My research revealed Eleanor and her four attendants wore exotic, turn-of-the-century, Russian-style dresses with Russian head-dresses of pearls and rhinestones purchased at renowned designer House of Lucile in New York.  

The Detroit Free Press reported the wedding was devoid of "the ostentation, show, glitter, and display of wealth usually associated with the union of couples from great and wealthy families." One reporter quipped he didn't think he saw $1,000 worth of jewels at the wedding.

I discovered Henry and Clara Ford didn't have a church wedding either.  They were married in Clara's parent's home, and she made her own wedding dress and petticoats.

Clara enjoyed the pleasures of tea, but her daughter-in-law, Eleanor, was not a tea drinker.

What fun I had learning about Eleanor, and I was grateful for the opportunity to do a presentation on the picturesque grounds of her beautiful Ford family estate.


  1. I love your favors! And how thoughtful of the birds outside the tent to chime in at the right moment. :-) Those tulips were amazing, too.

  2. Hi Phyllis, Very clever favors. An honor for you to speak at the Ford House. It is one of my favorite places and we only tend to go there when we have out-of-town company. I also hope to get their for the bridal exhibit. The food served looked delicious. Jill


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