The 87-acre estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford displays the couple's lifelong interest in art and architecture. The only son of automobile pioneer Henry Ford, Edsel began his career at the Ford Motor Company in 1912. He was promoted to vice-president five years later, and in 1919 Edsel, now 26, became president of Ford. His personal life was also changing rapidly -- in 1916 he married childhood friend Eleanor Hudson, and by 1925 the couple had four children. The Fords decided they needed a new home, choosing a plot his father owned in the exclusive lakeside suburbs north of Detroit. Edsel and Eleanor then asked architect Albert Kahn and landscape architect Jens Jensen to recreate the "charm and livability" of the Cotswolds, a rural area of picturesque stone homes located some 90 miles northwest of London they had visited many times. Kahn successfully modified the modest Cotswold architecture for the Fords' more grandiose needs, designing a 60-room mansion that maximized access to the dramatic lakeside, and Jensen skillfully created a landscape of curving paths, low stone walls, and clipped hedges. The couple filled their house with English and French antiques, and several rooms featured priceless works by masters like Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, Franz Hals, and Diego Rivera. Though Edsel died in 1943, Eleanor continued to live in the house until the 1970s. Before her death in 1976, Eleanor continued her and her husband's support for the arts by creating an endowment to preserve their home and its collection. Today, the Ford Estate is a house museum, fulfilling Eleanor's wish that the property be used for "the benefit of the public."
The entrance to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House is located 1100 Lakeshore Drive (Jefferson Avenue) in Macomb County just north of the Grosse Pointes. The estate is a house museum and is open to the public: Jan - Mar (Wed. - Sun, 1-4); Apr - Dec (Tues - Sat, 10-4, Sun, 1-4) There is a price for admission.
Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
Photograph by Rochelle S. Elstein
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