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Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

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1927–1929, Albert Kahn; Jens Jensen, landscape architect. 1100 Lake Shore Rd.
  • Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

The Ford estate occupies the largest and most beautifully situated homesite in this exclusive section of Grosse Pointe that stretches along the shore of Lake St. Clair. And although located in Macomb County, not Wayne, the Ford House is a part of this neighborhood. Surrounded by an expansive meadow and tall trees, the sixty-room, stately mansion sprawls at the end of a long, curving driveway and has a splendid view of the lake at Gaukler Point. The house is a superb example of the predilection of the automotive tycoons for English architecture; it reflects the cultural aspirations of Edsel Bryant Ford (1893–1943) and Eleanor Clay Ford (1896–1976) and their taste for great art and high-style architecture. In a departure from the elaborate palaces and fortresses favored by many of their contemporaries, the Fords engaged Kahn to reproduce the comfortable Cotswold architecture of England, but on a grand scale. Based on their visits abroad and Kahn's research, a rambling building was developed, characteristic of picturesque Cotswold houses with their additions over many generations, but much larger. It is built of Briar Hill, Ohio, sandstone and has a split-stone roof. Inside, an oak staircase, wood paneling, and a number of large fireplaces were purchased in England and reassembled in the house. The interior was designed by Irving Casson and Company of New York City. In 1935 the house was remodeled to include an Art Deco bedroom suite and a first-floor music room planned by Walter Dorwin Teague, a pioneer in industrial design.

Formal terraced gardens, a cascading swimming pool, a deep lagoon extending from house to boathouse, and a profusion of trees and shrubs, including an “avenue of trees” leading into the estate, complete the setting landscaped by Jens Jensen, one of America's most important landscape architects. Robert E. Grese states in Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens (1992) that the landscaping here became the most extensive and expensive of any of Jensen's residential designs. The Ford estate is a monument to private wealth, educated taste, and a sense of public responsibility. The house is open to the public.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Edsel and Eleanor Ford House", [Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-WN129.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 115-116.

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