The Henry Ford

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colspan="2" style="font-size: larger; Template:NRHP color text-align: center" | Edison Institute
colspan=2 Template:Infobox nrhp/NRHP nhld
Museum clock tower, at night. Building is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Location: The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Boulevard
at Village Road
Dearborn, Michigan
Coordinates: 42°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
Built/Founded: 1929
Architect: Robert O. Derrick
Designated as NHL: December 21 1981[1]
Added to NRHP: December 21, 1981
NRHP Reference#: 69000071

The Henry Ford, a National Historic Landmark, (also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and more formally as the Edison Institute), in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA, is the nation's "largest indoor-outdoor history museum" complex. [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 Theater, 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 invention of the 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. The dedication was carried 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.

Michigan native and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney formally announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States at The Henry Ford on February 13, 2007.

Henry Ford Museum

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:

  • The museum features an IMAX Theater, which shows scientific, natural, or historical documentaries; as well as major feature films.
  • A model of the nuclear-powered Ford Nucleon automobile.
  • An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
  • The 1961 Lincoln Continental, SS-100-X, that President John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated.
  • The rocking chair from Ford's Theater in which President Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot.
  • George Washington's camp bed.
  • A ten-person safety bicycle made in 1896
  • A collection[5] of several fine 17th and 18th century violins including a Stradivarius.
  • Thomas Edison's alleged last breath in a sealed tube.
  • Buckminster Fuller's prototype Dymaxion house.
  • The type of bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.[6]
  • Igor Sikorsky's prototype helicopter.
  • Fokker Trimotor airplane that flew the first flight over the North Pole.
  • Bill Elliott's record-breaking race car clocking in at over 212 MPH at Talledega in 1987.
  • The Newcomen type engine from Cobb's Engine House in England[7].
  • The Automotive Hall of Fame is next to the Henry Ford Museum.
  • Behind the scenes, the Benson Ford Research Center uses the resources of The Henry Ford, especially the photographic, manuscript and archival material which is rarely displayed, to allow visitors to gain a deeper understanding of American people, places, events, and things.

Greenfield Village

The Wright Cycle Company is now housed at Greenfield Village.

Greenfield Village is considered the largest outdoor museum 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.

The transportation system provides rides by horse-drawn omnibus, steam locomotive, a 1931 Model AA bus (one of about 15 left known to exist), and authentic Ford Model Ts. 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 Baldwin 4-4-0.

Some of the most notable homes and buildings include:

A glimpse of Greenfield Village
  • Noah Webster's Connecticut home.
  • the Wright brothers' bicycle shop and home from Dayton, Ohio
  • Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory from New Jersey
  • Henry Ford's birthplace
  • Henry Ford's prototype garage where he built the quadricycle
  • Harvey Firestone family farm
  • the Logan County, Illinois courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law
  • William Holmes McGuffey's birthplace
  • Luther Burbank's office

Summer events

Civil War Remembrance

Memorial Day

Each year the Village celebrates the Memorial Day weekend with its Civil War Remembrance. This event features several hundred 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.

Motor Muster

Motor Muster is one of two car shows that takes place annually in Greenfield Village. Motor Muster is traditionally held on Fathers Day weekend. This event currently features cars built from 1934–1977, and features between 500-700 cars. Special attractions include car judging, pass in review.

Discovery Camp

During the summer, there is a daytime Discovery Camp for children in grades 2-8. Children participate in apprenticeships, canoeing, glass blowing and other age-dependent activities.

Salute to America

For four nights around the Fourth of July, 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 1890–1933 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, gaslight tour (Saturday night only), and car races on Walnut Grove.

Rouge Tour

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.[8]


See also

  • Architecture of metropolitan Detroit
  • Automotive Hall of Fame
  • Fair Lane (Henry Ford's estate)
  • Henry Ford Academy
  • Tourism in metropolitan Detroit


  1. "Edison Institute". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved on 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. [1]
  5. Pic of the Month
  6. Rosa Parks Bus FAQ.
  7. "Listed Buildings in Rowley Regis". 
  8. 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 0739121421

Further reading

  • Cantor, George (2005). Detroit: An Insiders Guide to Michigan. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472030922. 
  • Fisher, Dale (2003). Building Michigan: A Tribute to Michigan's Construction Industry. Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing. ISBN 1891143247. 
  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:National Register of Historic Places