Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Celebrating Henry Ford's 150th Birthday

Last Thursday, July 25th, a friend and I went to Greenmead Historical Park, in Livonia, Michigan to attend a Henry Ford 150th Birthday Dinner - even though it was a few days before his actual birth date of July 30th [1863].  Happy Birthday, Mr. Ford!  Today has been declared 'Henry Ford Day' in Michigan!

[Photo Courtesy of Carly's Cakes]

Greenmead Historical Park includes the Greek Revival farmhouse, and nine of the original outbuildings that were part of the Joshua Simmons farm established in 1825. Greenmead was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1971, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The city purchased Greenmead in 1976 for use as a park. Additional buildings and pre-civil war houses have been moved from other locations to be included in the park. 

The Alexander Blue House, where the Henry Ford Birthday Dinner was held, is situated on the eastern part of the park.  It was built by Judge Alexander Blue.  He and his family resided in it until 1915.  It was donated to the city in 1980, and moved to Greenmead where it was restored to its 1880's appearance.

The Victorian house is beautiful inside and out.

It can accommodate up to 99 people, and was full for the Henry Ford dinner.

Our meal began with with an Edamame [soybean] salad, which was very appropriate given Henry's fondness for soybeans - for eating as well as for industrial products.  In 1941, a Ford prototype car had a body that was entirely plastic made from soybeans, and the seats in Ford's 2011 Explorers were made from soybeans.  Amazing versatility!  The marinated Edamame Salad contained apples, raisins, and grated carrots.  It was yummy.

The main course was fork-tender roast beef, a boneless pork chop, and roasted chicken [I didn't take any chicken].  It was accompanied by mixed vegetables, scalloped potatoes, and a tossed salad.   The beverages were iced tea and coffee.

The two desserts were recipes from the cookbook, Cooking for Henry, which was written by Jan Willemse and Eleanor Eaton.  Mr. Willemse was Henry's personal party chef.  The Devil's Food [Chocolate] Cake was a favorite of Clara's, and the Blueberry Pandowdy was a favorite of Henry's.

After our delicious meal Steven C. Stanford did an interesting presentation on Henry Ford and his family titled, "From Roots to Branches."

I've done a lot of research on Henry and Clara Ford, but Mr. Stanford told us something I didn't know - that Henry invented the charcoal briquette.  For his contribution to barbecuing, he was inducted into the 2012 Barbecue Hall of Fame!    

Over 3,000 people attended birthday festivities last Saturday at Fair Lane Estate - Henry and Clara's home from 1915 to 1950.  The estate has been closed to the public since December 2012 during a transfer of ownership from the University of Michigan to a newly formed non-profit.  But it was re-opened for the day to celebrate Henry's birthday.

[Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Estate]

A tall soy and chocolate chip birthday cake was made in Henry's honor.  It was served to guests in the mansion's former indoor swimming pool room - which was later converted to a public restaurant.

[Photo Credit:  Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press]

But back to Greenmead... I've discovered I've been missing out on several activities at this quaint historical site that's just 30 miles from my house:  A Presidential Tea; Peter Rabbit's Adventures; and a Mid-Summer's Night Tea.  Thankfully two more teas are scheduled for 2013 that I can attend:  A Highland Tea on October 19th and A Christmas Tea on December 12th.  I'll be sure to share photos and details!


  1. Oh, my, more fun teas to attend! I do wish I were close enough to go with you to both the Highland Tea and the Christmas Tea - but since I'm not, I will look forward to reading about them. And Happy Birthday to Mr. Ford!

  2. You find the most interesting events. I don't think I could keep up. Happy Birthday to Mr. Ford.

  3. As a Ford fan I particularly love this post!

  4. It's one thing to attend a tea, but one with historical influence is fabulous. I loved reading this post and am looking forward to the themed teas you'll be at later this year. Such fun.


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