Fair Lane

From Ford Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
colspan="2" style="font-size: larger; Template:NRHP color text-align: center" | Fair Lane
colspan=2 Template:Infobox nrhp/NRHP nhld
Fair Lane from the Rouge River side.
Location: Dearborn, MI
Built/Founded: 1909
Architect: Van Tine, William
Architectural style(s): Other
Designated as NHL: November 13 1966[1]
Added to NRHP: November 13, 1966
NRHP Reference#: 66000399 [2]
Governing body: Private

Fair Lane was the name of Henry Ford and Clara Ford's estate in Dearborn, Michigan. It was named after an area in County Cork where his adoptive grandfather, Patrick Ahern, was born. The extensive 1300 acre (5.3 km²) estate along the River Rouge included a large limestone house, electrical power plant on the dammed river, boathouse, stables and gardens designed by Jens Jensen. The estate was eventually donated to the University of Michigan for a new Dearborn campus. Part of it is preserved as a historic landmark,and part as a wooded nature area.

Frank Lloyd Wright participated in the initial design.[3] However, after Wright hurried off to Europe with Mrs. Cheney, Marion Mahony Griffin revised and completed the design according to her own interpretation of the Prairie Style. Henry Ford and his wife took a trip to Europe and on returning dismissed Griffin and used William H. Van Tine to add English manor house details. In 1913 Joseph Nathaniel French was brought in to work on the final stages.[4]

The house with 56 rooms and 31,000 square feet (3,000 m²) was considered less grandiose than other great houses of the era. It included an indoor pool and bowling alley. The pool is now covered over and serves as a restaurant.

The powerhouse had its cornerstone laid by Thomas Alva Edison and with hydropower not only powered the estate, but a part of the town of Dearborn as well. It included the estate's garage and on the upper level a laboratory where Ford worked on engine designs. The powerhouse is also built of limestone in the Prairie Style.

Several gardens, lawns and flower beds surround the house. The largest, the "Path of the Setting Sun" is aligned so that the setting sun of the summer solstice shows through a gap in the trees at the end of the meadow.

The boathouse allowed Henry Ford to travel on the Rouge River in his electric boat. The staff's houses and pony barn are used by the University of Michigan–Dearborn, one of which contains a child development center.

Some 72 acres (290,000 m²) of the original estate are managed as a National Historic Landmark.

The Fairlane line of Ford autos was named after the estate. The private rail car of Henry and Clara Ford, stored on a Ford siding of the Michigan Central Railroad in Dearborn, was named Fair Lane.

Photo gallery

See also

  • Architecture of metropolitan Detroit
  • Tourism in metropolitan Detroit


  1. "Fair Lane". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=277&ResourceType=District. Retrieved on 2008-06-27. 
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/. 
  3. A&E, with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). America's Castles: The Auto Baron Estates, A&E Television Network
  4. "Joseph N. French, Fairlane Architect". Detroit Free Press. February 29, 1975. "A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he came to Detroit in 1913 to work as an architect on Henry Ford's home, Fairlane." 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:National Register of Historic Places