The Henry Ford

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Edison Institute
Museum clock tower. The building is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The Henry Ford is located in Michigan
LocationThe Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Boulevard
at Village Road
Dearborn, Michigan
 United States
Coordinates42°18′12.90″N 83°14′2.68″W / 42.3035833°N 83.2340778°W / 42.3035833; -83.2340778Coordinates: 42°18′12.90″N 83°14′2.68″W / 42.3035833°N 83.2340778°W / 42.3035833; -83.2340778
ArchitectRobert O. Derrick
NRHP Reference #69000071
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 21, 1981
Designated NHLDDecember 21, 1981[1]
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Edison Institute
Museum clock tower. The building is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The Henry Ford is located in Michigan
LocationThe Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Boulevard
at Village Road
Dearborn, Michigan
 United States
Coordinates42°18′12.90″N 83°14′2.68″W / 42.3035833°N 83.2340778°W / 42.3035833; -83.2340778Coordinates: 42°18′12.90″N 83°14′2.68″W / 42.3035833°N 83.2340778°W / 42.3035833; -83.2340778
ArchitectRobert O. Derrick
NRHP Reference #69000071
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 21, 1981
Designated NHLDDecember 21, 1981[1]

The Henry Ford (also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and more formally as the Edison Institute) is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex and a National Historic Landmark in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA.[2][3] Named for its founder, the noted automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the property houses a vast array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theatre, Thomas Edison's laboratory, the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop, and the Rosa Parks bus.

Henry Ford said of his museum:

I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used.... When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition...[4]



The Edison Institute was dedicated by President Herbert Hoover to Ford's longtime friend Thomas Edison on October 21, 1929 – the 50th anniversary of the first successful incandescent light bulb. Of the 260 people in attendance, some of the more famous were Marie Curie, George Eastman, John D. Rockefeller, Will Rogers, and Orville Wright.[5] The dedication was broadcast on radio with listeners encouraged to turn off their electric lights until the switch was flipped at the Museum.

The Edison Institute was originally composed of the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and the Greenfield Village Schools (an experimental learning facility). Initially, Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum were owned by the Ford Motor Company which cooperates with the Henry Ford to provide the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and is a sponsor of the school. The Henry Ford is sited between the Ford Dearborn test track and several Ford engineering buildings with which it shares the same style gates and brick fences.

In 1970, the museum purchased what it believed to be a 17th-century Brewster Chair, created for one of the Pilgrim settlers in the Plymouth Colony, for $9,000. In September 1977, the chair was determined to be a modern forgery created in 1969 by Rhode Island sculptor Armand LaMontagne.[6] The museum retains the piece as an educational tool on forgeries.[7]

Henry Ford Museum[edit]

Buckminster Fuller's prototype Dymaxion house, in the Henry Ford Museum

Henry Ford Museum began as Henry Ford's personal collection of historic objects, which he began collecting as far back as 1906. Today, the 12 acre (49,000 m²) site is primarily a collection of antique machinery, pop culture items, automobiles, locomotives, aircraft, and other items:

Greenfield Village[edit]

A glimpse of Greenfield Village

The Henry Ford is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in America. Patrons enter at the gate, passing by the Josephine Ford Memorial Fountain and Benson Ford Research Center. Nearly one hundred historical buildings were moved to the property from their original locations and arranged in a "village" setting. The museum's intent is to show how Americans lived and worked since the founding of the country. The Village includes buildings from the 17th century to the present, many of which are staffed by costumed interpreters who conduct period tasks like farming, sewing and cooking. A collection of craft buildings such as pottery, glass-blowing, and tin shops provide demonstrations while producing materials used in the Village and for sale. Greenfield Village has 240 acres (970,000 m²) of land of which only 90 acres (360,000 m²) are used for the attraction, the rest being forest, river and extra pasture for the sheep and horses.

Village homes and buildings include:

A transportation system provides rides by horse-drawn omnibus, steam locomotive, a 1931 Model AA bus (one of about 15 known to exist), and authentic Ford Model Ts. The Weiser Railroad is a standard gauge passenger train that travels around the perimieter of Greenfield Village and has four stations. Steam locomotives in operation include the Torch Lake, an 1873 0-6-4 Mason Bogie which is one of the oldest operating steam locomotives in the U.S., and the Edison, a Manchester 0-4-0 rebuilt into a 4-4-0 by Ford. The railroad, unusually for a heritage railway, has a direct connection to Amtrak.

Signature events[edit]

Civil War Remembrance

Civil War Remembrance

Each year the Village honors the sacrifices and achievements of those who bravely fought and continue to fight in defense of America during the Memorial Day weekend with its Civil War Remembrance. This event features more than 400 Civil War reenactors who are invited to camp in the Village over the weekend. Attractions include infantry, cavalry, and artillery demonstrations, as well as a reenactors' ball, and special memorial events to commemorate the service of United States military veterans.[29]

Motor Muster

Motor Muster is one of two car shows that take place annually in Greenfield Village. Motor Muster is traditionally held on Father's Day weekend. This event currently features cars built from 1932–1976, and features between 600–800 cars. Special attractions include car judging, and Pass in Review in which experts discuss highlights of the passing cars.

Discovery Camp

During the summer, there is a daytime Discovery Camp for children in grades 2-9. Children participate in apprenticeships, canoeing, glass blowing and other age-dependent activities.

Hay baling demonstration during Maker Faire Detroit 2011 at the Henry Ford

Salute to America

For four nights around Independence Day, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs a patriotic concert on Walnut Grove in the Village. Attendance ranges from 5000–9500 per evening.

Ragtime Street Fair

This event was inaugurated in 2007 and returned in 2008. The Street Fair features several live performers along with recorded music from the Ragtime era (ca. 1900-1917). The 2008 event also featured silent movies and a vaudeville show in town hall as well as the 1912 presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt. Instruction in the ragtime one step is provided free of charge at this event.

Old Car Festival

Features cars from 1890–1931 and is the event from which Motor Muster was spun off. Old Car Festival has been held on the first weekend after Labor Day since 1955. This event features 500-700 cars. Special events include car judging, Pass in Review, the gaslight tour (Saturday night only), and car games(races) on the Walnut Grove field.

Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village

The Village's Halloween celebration features decorations, a headless horseman, witches, other costumed characters, treats and activities for visitors. It is held Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings in October.[30]

Holiday Nights

The Christmas season has traditionally been very popular in Greenfield Village. Many buildings feature period decorations and evening tours are conducted along candle-lit paths. Visitors can view live entertainment and costumed presenters or ride in a horse-drawn carriage or Model T.[31]

Rouge Tour[edit]

The Ford Rouge Factory Tour is a first-hand journey behind the scenes of a modern, working automobile factory. Boarding buses at the Henry Ford Museum, visitors are taken to the River Rouge Plant and Dearborn Truck Plant – an industrial complex where Ford has built cars since the Model A and which once employed 100,000 people.[32]

In 2003, the Ford Rouge Factory, the manufacturing facility for Ford's Ford F-Seriestruck, reopened following extensive renovations. When it reopened in 2003, as sustainable architecture (Gold LEED Building) led by noted 'green' architect William McDonough, it also opened a new state-of-the-art visitor center highlighting not only the factory's sustainable aspects, but also educating visitors on the legacy of the historic manufacturing facility, as well as the vehicle manufacturing process that takes place within the manufacturing plant. The visitor experiences, designed by award winning experience designer Bob Rogers (designer) and the design team BRC Imagination Arts,[33] offers two multi-screen theaters, numerous touchscreen interpretive displays and overlook the world’s largest “Green” roof, atop the factory. Visitors then walk through the working assembly plant.[34]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Edison Institute". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  2. ^ America's Story, Explore the States: Michigan (2006). Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village Library of Congress
  3. ^ State of Michigan: MI Kids (2006).Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
  4. ^ "Explore & Learn-Pic of the Month". The Henry Ford. January 2004. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  5. ^ "October 21, 1929: Henry Ford Dedicates the Thomas Edison Institute". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  6. ^ "A $9,000 Antique (Circa 1969)". New York Times ( 27 October 1977. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  7. ^ "Pic of the Month". The Henry Ford. April 2000. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  8. ^ a b c David Yonke (9 September 2008). "Henry Ford Museum provides speedy tour of motor history". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  9. ^ Keith Martin (19 July 2004). "Other Collections With Big 3 Connections". New York Times ( Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  10. ^ "Explore & Learn-Pic of the Month". The Henry Ford. February 1999. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  11. ^ Ian Austen (13 April 2000). "Fuller's Dymaxion House To Be Rebuilt by Museum". New York Times ( Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  12. ^ "Rosa Parks Bus FAQ". The Henry Ford. 2002. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  13. ^ a b c d Alfred Borcover (27 July 1986). "The Ford Legacy Of Wonderful 'Stuff'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  14. ^ Roger Hart (11 June 2010). "Comprehensive racing exhibit planned for the Henry Ford". Autoweek ( Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  15. ^ "Listed Buildings in Rowley Regis". Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. 
  16. ^ "Ford's Archives Given Institute". New York Times ( 31 December 1964. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  17. ^ a b Bryan 1996, p. 38.
  18. ^ "Noah Webster Fact Sheet". Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  19. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 98.
  20. ^ "Wright home and bicycle shop installed at Greenfield Village". Wright State University. 1938. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  21. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 24.
  22. ^ Interactive Map:Edison's Menlo Park Complex, The Henry Ford, retrieved 2012-05-08, "Built in 1929 in Greenfield Village. Some structural elements from original complex in Menlo Park, New Jersey." 
  23. ^ "Science: Edisoniana". Time ( 25 February 1929. Retrieved 2011-05-31. (subscription required)
  24. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 246.
  25. ^ "Museums: Pottsville Courthouse". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  26. ^ "Ford Gets Burbank Office". New York Times ( 13 October 1928. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 35.
  29. ^ "Greenfield Village to honor soldiers from Civil War". Kalamazoo Gazette. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  30. ^ "Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  31. ^ "Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  32. ^ Ann Brigham, “Behind-the-Scenes Space: Promoting Production in a Landscape of Consumption,” pp. 207-223 in The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nation, and Self, ed. Scott A. Lukas (Lanham, MD, Lexington Books, 2007), ISBN 0-7391-2142-1
  33. ^ "Ford Rouge Factory Tour". BRC Imagination Arts. 
  34. ^ "Branding By Factory Tour? Calif.'s BRC Says You Betcha". December 6, 2004. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]