The Henry Ford

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Edison Institute
The Henry Ford 2011.jpg
Museum clock tower. The building is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The Henry Ford is located in Michigan
The Henry Ford
Location The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Boulevard
at Village Road
Dearborn, Michigan
 United States
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 1929
Architect Robert O. Derrick
NRHP Reference # 69000071
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 21, 1981
Designated NHLD December 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 automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his efforts to preserve items of historical interest and portray the Industrial Revolution, the property houses homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains the presidential limousine of John F. Kennedy, 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]

It is the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in America.[citation needed]


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. The attendees included Marie Curie, George Eastman, John D. Rockefeller, Will Rogers, and Orville Wright and about 250 others.[5] The dedication was broadcast on radio with listeners encouraged to turn off their electric lights until the switch was flipped at the Museum.[citation needed]

The Edison Institute was, at first, a private site for educational purposes only, but after numerous inquiries about the complex, it was opened as a museum to the general public in June 1933. It 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:

  • 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
The Sunshine Special, the official state car used by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Greenfield Village[edit]

"Greenfield Village" redirects here. For the neighborhood in Houston, see Greenfield Village (Houston).
A glimpse of Greenfield Village

Greenfield Village, the outdoor living history section of the Henry Ford complex, was (along with the adjacent Henry Ford Museum) dedicated in 1929 and opened to the public in June 1933.[18] 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:

The Edison steam locomotive dropping off and picking up passengers at the Greenfield Village main-gate entrance.
  • Ackley Covered Bridge, a 75' wooden covered bridge, built in 1832 over Enlow Fork along the Greene - Washington County line in Southwestern Pennsylvania and removed to the village in 1937.[29]
  • Cape Cod Windmill, also known as the Farris mill, is considered one of the oldest in America. It was originally built in 1633 on the north side of Cape Cod. It was moved several times around Cape Cod until it was gifted to Henry Ford from the Ford Dealers Association, and installed in Greenfield Village in 1936.[30]
  • In 1935, a structure was added to the park and was identified as the home of Stephen Foster. The structure was identified by historians of the time as being authentic and was then deconstructed and moved "piece by piece" from Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh) to Greenfield Village, Michigan. Foster's niece insisted that it was not his birthplace and in 1953, the claim was withdrawn.[31][32] Greenfield Village still displays a structure that is identified as the birthplace of Stephen Foster. The heirs of the Foster family stated that the original Foster birthplace structure was torn down in 1865. In 2015, though, the structure is still identified as the Stephen Foster home. It is not clear when the incorrect designation was restored.[33]

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 rail line on which the steam locomotives presently run originally consisted of a simple straight stretch of track for display purposes only along the northern edge of the museum property, and had been present from the time Greenfield Village was dedicated in 1929. The rail line, now named the Weiser Railroad, was later expanded to accommodate operational train rides, which was completed in stages between 1971 and 1972.[34] This 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge passenger line is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long, travels around the perimeter 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 in 1932.[35] The railroad, unusual for a heritage railway built purposely for tourism, has a direct connection with the United States National Railroad Network. The line to which it connects is owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad and is used by Amtrak trains between Chicago and Detroit, with a conditional station reserved for tour groups.

Signature events[edit]

Civil War Remembrance

Civil War Remembrance

Each year the Village honors the sacrifices and achievements of those who bravely fought in the American Civil War. The Civil War Remembrance takes place towards the end of May every year. An estimated 750,000 people died during the Civil War. The Civil War Remembrance is a weekend event, which includes, hundreds of Union and Confederate reenactors, musicians and historic presenters. This event features more than 400 Civil War reenactors who spend the entire weekend in the Village. Greenfield Village provides many opportunities in order to learn about the Civil War: exhibits, presentations, battle reenactments, hands-on activities and Q&A with historians.[36]

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

Every summer the Henry Ford has a Summer Discovery Camp. It takes place inside Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum between June and August. It is for children in grades 2-9.[37] Each grade level has a different theme and children who participate in the Discovery Camp have the opportunity to look at both the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village from different perspectives. Children participate in activities such as: apprenticeships, canoeing, glass blowing and other age-dependent activities.

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

World Tournament of Historic Baseball

The World Tournament of Historical Baseball takes place every year in August. Guests get to take a step back in time to 1867 as vintage baseball clubs from around the country compete by the game’s early rules in a two-day exposition of historic baseball.[38] The clubs engage in two days of throwing, batting and competition. The event is included in Greenfield Village admission.[39]

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

The Old Car Festival takes place every year in September. The Old Car Festival has been held on the first weekend after Labor Day since 1955. The festival takes over the streets and grounds of Greenfield Village with the sights, sounds, and smells of hundreds of authentic vehicles from the 1890s through 1932.[40] This event features 500-700 cars. Special events include car judging, Pass in Review, the gaslight tour, and car races on the Walnut Grove field. Guests can take a self-guided tour of the exposition and talk to the owners of the treasured vehicles. Visitors can watch a Model T be assembled in just minutes, attend presentations, and hear experts share information about the vintage vehicles.[37]

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.[41]

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.[42]

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.[43]

In 2003, the Ford Rouge Factory, the manufacturing facility for Ford's Ford F-Series truck, 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 and the design team BRC Imagination Arts,[44] 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.[45]


Henry Ford Museum[edit]

Airplane Exhibits[edit]

Agriculture Exhibits[edit]

Automobile Exhibits[edit]

Made In America Exhibits[edit]

Greenfield Village[edit]

Thomas Edison Exhibits[edit]

Wright Brothers Exhibits[edit]

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)". The 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". The 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". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  12. ^ "Rosa Parks Bus FAQ". The Henry Ford. 2002. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  13. ^ Whitley, David (October 3, 2014). "Henry Ford Museum, Detroit: The bus that changed America". (Fairfax Media). Retrieved October 3, 2014.  External link in |work= (help)
  14. ^ a b c d Alfred Borcover (27 July 1986). "The Ford Legacy Of Wonderful 'Stuff'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  15. ^ Roger Hart (11 June 2010). "Comprehensive racing exhibit planned for the Henry Ford". Autoweek ( Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  16. ^ "Listed Buildings in Rowley Regis". Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. 
  17. ^ "Ford's Archives Given Institute". The New York Times. 31 December 1964. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  18. ^ Origins of the Henry Ford
  19. ^ a b Bryan 1996, p. 38.
  20. ^ "Noah Webster Fact Sheet". Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  21. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 98.
  22. ^ "Wright home and bicycle shop installed at Greenfield Village". Wright State University. 1938. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  23. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 24.
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ "Science: Edisoniana". Time. 25 February 1929. Retrieved 2011-05-31. (subscription required)
  26. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 246.
  27. ^ "Museums: Pottsville Courthouse". Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  28. ^ "Ford Gets Burbank Office". The New York Times. 13 October 1928. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  29. ^ "Ackley Covered Bridge". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  30. ^ Bryan 1996, p. 35.
  31. ^ Wilkinson, Clint (30 January 1953), "Stephen Foster House In Museum Wrong One", The Detroit Free Press, retrieved 2 October 2015 
  32. ^ Lowry, Patricia (30 March 2003). "Theater: A dramatic makeover for the Stephen Foster Memorial". Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  33. ^ Schwallie, Karen (2015-10-03). "Greenfield Village Memories - Stephen Foster Home". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  34. ^ The Henry Ford Blog Archives - Railroads
  35. ^ - Dearborn, MI
  36. ^ "Civil War Remembrance". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  37. ^ a b "Events". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  38. ^ "Historic Base Ball Games". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  39. ^ "The 11th Annual World Tournament of Historic Base Ball Returns to Greenfield Village, August 10–11" (Press release). The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  40. ^ Schreiber, Ronnie (14 September 2014). "63rd Annual Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village – Vintage Motorcars Being Driven As They Were Meant To Be. Bonus: Early Electric City Car". The Truth About Cars. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  41. ^ "Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  42. ^ "Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village". The Henry Ford. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  43. ^ Brigham, Ann (4 October 2007). "Behind-the-Scenes Space: Promoting Production in a Landscape of Consumption". In Lukas, Scott A. The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nation, and Self. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. pp. 207–223. ISBN 978-0739121429. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  44. ^ "Ford Rouge Factory Tour: Acknowledgements" (PDF). BRC Imagination Arts. 
  45. ^ Schmelzer, Randi (6 December 2004). "Branding By Factory Tour? Calif.'s BRC Says You Betcha". Adweek. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bryan, Ford R. (1996). Henry's Attic: Some Fascinating Gifts to Henry Ford and His Museum. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0814326428. 
  • Cantor, George (2005). Detroit: An Insiders Guide to Michigan. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-03092-2. 
  • Fisher, Dale (2003). Building Michigan: A Tribute to Michigan's Construction Industry. Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing. ISBN 1-891143-24-7. 
  • 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[edit]