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Fair Lane Estate July 31, 2010

Posted by Danielle in Family Stuff.
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Yesterday, my parents and I visited the Ford’s Fair Lane Estate in Dearborn, Michigan. None of us had ever been there before, and it will be closing around the end of this year as its ownership will be transferred from the University of Michigan to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  There is no photography allowed inside the estate, so all the pictures I took are of the grounds outside the house.

The mansion itself is very impressive.  It has 53 rooms, most of which are closed to the public.  The original furniture was all auctioned off, as stated in Mrs. Ford’s will, and the Estate has gotten a few of the original pieces back.  Other pieces of furniture are to show what typically would fill a home of this time period.  One of the most amazing things I learned, too, was that Henry Ford had wanted to limit the budget for the home to $250,000.00 when it was built – and they over-spent the budget by quite a bit!  It wound up being a $2 million dollar home in 1915! 

The house itself had some very unique things, such as its own power house.  The circuit breakers in it were gigantic.  And there were pumps to drain the pool, too.  We walked through a tunnel to get from the power house to the main house, and Mr. Ford had installed a security gate there.  Apparently, he was very concerned about someone harming his family.  The tour guide mentioned that this fear came to light especially when the Lindbergh kidnapping happened.  This gate is still locked every night at 5:00 p.m.

Historical Marker

 This is the Historical Marker which is near the back entrance to the house at the circle driveway.

Rose Garden at the Fair Lane Estate

This is the rose garden, which you come to just as you exit where the pool once stood.  That area is currently a restaurant (with very good food, I might add)… and the tour guide advised that she was not sure whether the restaurant would be there after the Estate is restored by the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Home once ownership is transferred.

Dad and Mom sitting in the rose garden

Rose in the rose garden

Okay, you probably know me and flowers… I couldn’t resist taking this picture.  Beautiful!  And the best thing about the rose garden is that you could smell the roses!  None of those hybrid roses with no scent here.

View of outside eating area

This is the outside eating area.  Quite a view from the patio, and we wish we’d chosen to eat outside instead of in the pool area!  The pool is no longer there.  It had been filled with sand and converted, if I remember correctly, into a storage area for archives at one point.

Garden on side of house

As you can see, this garden area is very overgrown.  But you can still see its beauty.

Flowers in the side garden

Many of the gardens were meant to show off the natural beauty of the area, and they often used native plants.

Rouge River

Here is a picture of the Rouge River, which runs right next to the house.

Going down to the Boat House


Exit from the Boat House

Here we are going down to the Boat House where Mrs. Ford used to keep her boat.  I believe it was called the Callie B.  And below is the exit that Mrs. Ford would use to get her boat onto the river.  Apparently, this was cut off because of pollution issues in the Rouge.  We even got to take a peek inside the boat house.  There is a wrought iron gate that is locked, but you can see through the gate.  It’s pretty creepy looking.

Alpine Rock Garden

With this garden, Mrs. Ford moved away from the more natural, native species.  Here, she chose to use more imported plants.  Apparently, there used to be one gardener whose job it was to maintain just this garden!  There are walking paths throughout this terraced area as well, and they lead up to the main part of the house.

Outside of house, coming up from the Alpine Garden

Back of house

 This is coming up to the back of the house.  The Fords have a large circle drive here, and the guide told us that this is where friends and family would drive up to their home.  The circle drive is to the left of where the picture leaves off.

Weeping Beech

This tree is magnificent!  I had no idea if this is what it should look like or if, like the gardens, it has become overgrown.  But apparently, according to this article, the tree is almost what it should be!

Branches from the Weeping Beech

These branches just astounded me… they are starting to creep out onto the grass below the tree.  The tree itself was a 50th Anniversary gift from Edsel & Eleanor Ford.

Miniature Farm House

This is on the way back to the parking lot.  It’s a miniature farm house that Henry Ford had made, along with some farm equipment, for the Michigan State Fair in 1924.  After the Fair, he had the house moved to his Estate.  It’s got lots of details inside, too.  The front room has a miniature wood burning stove.  The kitchen has another wood burning stove, a sink, and an area with a wash tub and board.  And we went around back and it even had doors like there was a cellar!

I would love to come back in the Fall and see the trees in full color… as well as to come back after the Estate has been restored to see what the differences are, and to see if there are more areas open to view.



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