Friday, July 22, 2016

A Day at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

After being absent from my blog four days this week, [I was submerged in Titanic research for a presentation this Sunday],  I'm back to share an activity that transpired a week ago, on Thursday, July 14th, when my daughter, Lori, and I toured Edsel and Eleanor Ford's mansion in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI.  I have toured the mansion several times, and never tire of seeing it. We had a wonderful docent [a former history teacher], and there's always something new to learn with each visit.  It takes 50-60 minutes to tour the mansion.

Below is the Gate House and main entrance to the estate [photo taken through car windshield]. It is located at 1100 Lake Shore Dr.  The mansion became public in 1978 after Eleanor Ford's passing in 1976.

The 60-room mansion [containing three stories and a basement] is listed on the Michigan State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.   The mansion, which is now a historic museum and cultural center, is visited by 50,000 people a year.

Construction of the mansion began in 1926 and the family took up residence just in time for Christmas 1929. Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside the mansion, so I only have exterior photos to share.  

We arrived at the Visitor Center and purchased 12:30 p.m. tickets for the tour.  I purchased tickets for the 3:00 o'clock Afternoon Tea in the Cotswold Café online.

A shuttle picked us up at the Visitor Center and drove us to the mansion. The estate originally consisted of 87 acres, but has been reduced to 44 acres currently. 

Below is the main entrance to the 20,000 sq. ft. home. Edsel and Eleanor traveled to England to get architectural ideas for their home, and liked the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire best.  The mansion looks like a small village of Cotswold cottages built closely together.  The exterior is Briar Hill sandstone from Indiana.

Under the peaked roof is the Gallery - the largest room in the house - where the tour officially began.  The Ford's used it for parties and it was a favorite room at Christmastime. Our docent said Henry and Clara Ford's 50th Wedding Anniversary party was held in this room with 500 guests in attendance, as well as their daughter, Josephine's, wedding reception.

Alcove of windows in the gallery. 

Side view of the mansion.  In the distance is Lake St. Clair.

~ Apple Court ~  

The room on the lower level is the Drawing Room, and above [with the small balcony] was Edsel and Eleanor's bedroom.

Below are the new life-sized bronze sculptures of Edsel and Eleanor, commemorating their 100th Wedding Anniversary in the nearby "Meadow".

[Me next to the Ford sculptures]

Another side view of the mansion - lower level Drawing Room, and upper level Edsel and Eleanor Ford's bedroom.

Below is a back view of the house where the loggia [porch] is located off the Main Hall.  The other first floor windows are where the Morning Room and Dining Room are located.  The Library [not visible in the photo] is to the left of the loggia. Mrs. Ford used to host Afternoon Teas in the Library, although her daughter-in-law [Martha Firestone Ford] stated Mrs. Ford herself was not a tea drinker.

The house is not air-conditioned so the second floor was particularly warm to tour, even with open windows facing the lake. The docent said the Ford family spent summers at their home, "Skylands", in Seal Harbor, Maine [now owned by Martha Stewart], so the lack of air-conditioning was not a problem.

When Mrs. Ford was home, she walked the grounds of her estate every day [rain or shine] until her death.

~ Swimming Pool and Pool House ~

We walked through the Rose Garden [containing many pink, yellow, and white tea roses, but no red ones, because Mrs. Ford didn't care for red roses], and the New Garden, en route to Josephine's Play House.

Josephine Ford's playhouse was a gift from her grandmother, Mrs. Henry [Clara] Ford, on her 7th birthday.  The four bedroom playhouse [kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom] has working electricity and plumbing.  Our docent said Josephine was a tomboy [she had three brothers] and loved dogs, so she didn't use the playhouse much.

Photographs were allowed inside the playhouse.  Below is the living room [furniture isn't original] with real fireplace.

~ Bedroom ~

~ Child-size Bathroom ~

From the playhouse, we walked to the South Cottage to view the Century of Love exhibit: "Down the Aisle - 100 Years of Ford Family Weddings" featuring 14 wedding gowns throughout four generations of Ford women.

~ Walkway to South Cottage [a former Ford employee residence] ~

We only had time to view a few wedding gowns, then it was time to leave for our Afternoon Tea reservation.  A shuttle picked us up at South Cottage to take us back to the Visitor Center for the tea [next post].  After the tea, the shuttle took us back to South Cottage to finish viewing the wedding gowns [which will also be an upcoming post].


  1. I have been there but so many many years ago.

    I was born in Grosse Point. :-)

    I was just telling my husband that I'd like to see it again about a month ago.


  2. Beautiful photos, Phyllis! You may not have gotten to take photos inside, but you made up for it with all the great exterior shots. And of course I love that playhouse. (I am reminded of my animal-loving niece, who wouldn't have played in the playhouse much either!)

  3. What a wonderful place to visit! I love the playhouse, I wish I could play in one like that myself. :-)


Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!