Meandering around Fair Lane Estate – Part I

Fair Lane Estate in Dearborn, Michigan was the home of Henry and Clara Ford from 1915 until Clara’s death in 1950; (Henry died three years earlier). This extensive venue is also referred to as the Clara and Henry Ford Estate and is one of the first historic sites to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

Henry and Clara Ford built this 31,000-square-foot mansion as their dream home and it takes center stage in this 1,300- acre estate which overlooks the Rouge River. This is a popular tourist attraction, with its enviable gardens and interesting architecture and was the final home of the pioneer of Ford Motor Company, whom, as you likely already know, was one of the creators of the automobile. The entire Estate in its heyday consisted of a working farm, pony barn, private garage/laboratory, greenhouse/potting shed, hydro-electric powerhouse/dam and staff cottages. A huge staff was needed to maintain the grounds i.e. the many stone walkways, rose, wildflower and perennial gardens, in addition to the English country manor-style mansion with its indoor pool, skating house and bowling alley. Amazingly, there were 26 gardeners attending to the various gardens and walkways.

I’ve visited this venue in three seasons.

From 2019 to 2021 I visited the Estate multiple times in different seasons and amassed a lot of photos. I discarded those photos taken in the Summer of 2019, because Fair Lane, which has been undergoing extensive interior and exterior restoration efforts since 2014, had scaffolding surrounding the mansion which detracted from the architecture. So, I returned in the Spring of 2020 when the outside mansion restoration was compete and took almost-identical shots, just minus that ugly scaffolding. One day I will return to visit the interior, but the renovations, done in phases, are as yet incomplete, partly because of COVID. I have been dragging my heels on getting these Fair Lane posts done as I wanted to include some historical info along with the photos, all which took time, but I figured the posts are evergreen.

A little backstory about the Ford Estate.

It seems incredible that I never knew this place existed until a few years ago – no big deal right? Except that I passed Fair Lane twice a day as I drove along Evergreen Road going to and from Henry Ford Community College. I will even sheepishly admit that for two years I was on the staff of my alma mater’s college newspaper, The Ford Estate. Query: did I not once wonder about the origin of the newspaper’s name which moniker was chosen for the nearby Ford Estate? Hmm.

Yes, the Estate grounds were next to HFCC, but tucked away from Evergreen Road where I blitzed by in my Biscay Blue VW Super Beetle five days a week. I guess I was not too mindful of my surroundings, or had other things going on. I was carrying a full load of classes, working at the diner part-time during the school year, full-time in Summer and on all school breaks. I was not only on the staff of the newspaper, but also an active member of HFCC Student Government. I wouldn’t want to try that juggling act now, but in those days, youthful stamina and lots of coffee got ‘er done.

Flash forward some 40 plus years later

In 2019 I participated in the Mutt Strut, a 5K walk/run to raise money for a local animal shelter. The event route went along the Rouge River Gateway Trail and past the Henry and Clara Ford Estate. It was a gorgeous May day and the turnaround point was near the entrance to Fair Lane.

While passing the many flowering apple trees on the grounds, finally it clicked … the venue and the college newspaper’s name. Anyway, I liked that route and made a mental note to return to explore the Estate, which I did on a sunny Saturday afternoon in 2019. Before my return, I researched the venue online and knew there were renovations going on. This time I did not hike over to the Estate, but drove to Fair Lane and parked in an adjacent parking lot. I chitchatted for a half-hour with the guard before entering the grounds. She explained the extensive renovation to the Fords’ home prohibited interior access, but visitors were free to roam around the grounds. The interior renovation of Fair Lane is ongoing to this day and, when completed, will recreate artwork, window treatments, wooden floors and floor coverings in painstaking detail, all to ensure the 56-room Manor will one day look identical to when it was occupied by Clara and Henry Ford.

So, with all that history under my belt, I thanked her and prepared to explore. She called out to me “one more thing before you go dear – please be sure to return in the Spring when Clara’s lilac garden is in bloom – the smell and beauty will blow you away!” I thanked her and off I went to explore the grounds of Henry and Clara Fords’ Estate.

The first stop was Fair Lane Manor.

The Fords’ home took two years to build (1913 to 1915) and was the 15th and final residence of Henry and Clara. It was designed in part by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is made of neighboring Ohio’s Marblehead Quarry limestone and concrete. This massive undertaking began after the success of Ford’s Model T. I’ll focus on photos of the house, but there are adjoining buildings where Henry Ford had a laboratory and a retreat area where he discussed his ideas with fellow inventor/pal Thomas Edison. Edison was instrumental in designing the power plant in 1914, which harnessed power from the River and directed it to the home, laboratory and Clara’s greenhouse/potting shed.

Below are the back of the Manor and two shots of the power plant/garage.

Here is how it looked back in the day.

Tootling along the Rouge River.

The Estate is built on the Rouge River. The rear of the home faces the River and that residence, along with the current 17 acres of gardens and grounds are located high above this River which is prone to flooding.

Below you will see the churning Rouge River …

… and these old photos show how that power was harnessed for use in the power plant.

One can have a peaceful stroll along the Rouge River on some of the stone walkways and there were stone steps as well – you had to have good footing as the steps were steep and uneven and that flagstone path was a bit slippery. The Redbud trees were in bloom and it was a very picturesque sight.

You can see the steps and stones were a bit precarious for walking. Below you can read how Clara Ford had the horizontal stones placed to form Alpine gardens.

Here are more photos around the exterior of Fair Lane Manor.

I stopped at Clara’s Greenhouse and Potting Shed.

I could tell there will be a lot more refurbishing done to the greenhouse area. The trails that lead to the gardens near the greenhouse were fenced off with signs that read “no entry” – oh well, as mentioned above, I’ll return when the restoration is 100% completed .

The potting shed (right) was quaint looking and was more like a small house. I peered inside where a slicker hung on a hall tree and there were high boots and a collection of garden utensils, gloves and potting soil.

There were plants lined up along the walkway awaiting one of the many gardeners still on staff.

Clara Ford loved her gardens and in these vintage photos, you can see all the planning that went into them with master gardeners and renowned landscape designers.

At the guard’s suggestion, I did return to see Clara Ford’s Lilac Gardens and my next post, for Wordless Wednesday, will focus on her Persian Lilacs. Unfortunately, as you see below, some of the Lilacs were lost or pruned back due to disease.

Next Monday’s post, will feature a section of the Estate known as the Formal Rose Garden where Clara Ford could gaze upon her 10,000-plant rose garden. Now you know why there were 26 full-time gardeners on staff!

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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123 Responses to Meandering around Fair Lane Estate – Part I

  1. Anne says:

    What a beautiful estate. Thank you for including some historical notes to provide context.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      It really is beautiful Anne – so much to see and the best time to go was in Summer when all the wildflowers and perennials AND the annuals in the Tribute Garden are in bloom. I took pics of the flower gardens, but I didn’t want to make the post overly long as it was picture laden as it is. Glad you enjoyed the historical info – they had signs around the home and powerhouse showing vintage shots which was very interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an impressive estate! I’m looking forward to the lilacs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra J says:

    What a place Linda, I love going to places like this. The life style they must have had and usually they have or had some beautiful flower gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      You would like this place Sandra and when you did your posts with pics and videos about the mansion and gardens you visited around the holidays last year, I may have said to you it reminded me of this Estate. I will return once the renovations are done inside – not sure if they will allow cameras inside though. Nothing was open inside any building and they don’t even have an estimate on the completion date which was extended due to COVID.

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  4. Ari says:

    What a beautiful place and with such history. A true shame about the lilacs, though

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, pretty amazing to see it Ari. I think it is an incredibly painstaking process to recreate the buildings and grounds to its heyday, but will be done eventually. It was a shame about the lilacs and I’m sure the very rainy Spring we had in 2021 and are having now, are not doing any favors to those bushes. I have two lilac trees in my yard that have been there for decades – they bloom but are sparse. But I bought a smaller lilac bush and it bloomed last year for the first time ever – miraculous as I planted it in the mid-1990s!

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  5. That’s an impressive estate! So beautiful. Must have been wonderful to live there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You used to be able to walk a path into the woods around there. Not sure if it’s still open.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I saw a path into the woods Cathy – was this the woods to the left of the greenhouse area, across from the Tribute Gardens? If so, this was fenced off and a sign of “no entry” was on the fence. It looked like a dense woodsy area at that time. I went through the grounds where all the perennial gardens were and followed those trails, but I am sure I missed some things. I had walked at Elizabeth Park that morning and took pictures of the pony ranch for a post and drove home – it was a beautiful day (no humidity, rare for August), so on a lark I went to the Estate, not knowing just how massive it was. I was pretty pooped out by the time I got home for good.

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      • downriverdem1 says:

        I remember it being off a parking lot for college. There use to be a restaurant inside open to the public. It will be much better when it’s brought back to when they lived there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I didn’t remember that. I found out a lot of info from my chat with the guard. I researched to see when the renovations were done since the last projected date was 2020 and everything was shut down due to COVID. Now, renovation info is only given to members/donors of the non-profit group which has taken over the Estate and its renovations. I’m sure there will be press releases and media coverage when it finally opens. It is fairly close to UM-Dearborn. Last year when I was walking the Rouge Gateway Trail to get to the Estate, they were having commencement outside and it was all open, so I watched part of it.

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  7. Nice the estate is protected – we have the National Trust here which protects many houses and estates for the nation in the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I thought of you when compiling this post Andy because I often remark how your old buildings and castles, forts and the like have been preserved and there are so many of them. They are really doing some painstaking restoration inside and outside of the buildings. I suppose they will do a press release when renovations are done, but for now, mum’s the word as it is a non-profit corporation that is responsible for the renovations, so you have to be a member to find out any info.

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  8. Pam Lazos says:

    Wow, I’m going to have to check that out someday, Linda. I love Frank Lloyd Wright and a house with a view!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      It is something to see Pam, especially in Summer with all the gardens in bloom. You should wait until the renovations are done inside as they are doing every painstaking detail to reproduce the manor as it was when the Fords lived there. The deadline for completion is not available to the public as a non-profit corporation is in charge of the Estate and only members/donors are privy to the renovation info. I am sure there will be a press release once it is completed and tours resume.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ally Bean says:

    That mansion is huge, in a style that doesn’t call to me, but I recognize is unique. The gardens look amazing, too. So glad you wandered around there with your camera.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, I’d get lost inside for sure and a 56-room mansion is unfathomable to me too Ally. If someone likes flowers, this is the place to see from Spring through Fall. I visited the many gardens in three different seasons and did take a lot of shots, many which I left out because I decided to include the vintage info plaques instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie says:

    Thanks for the history lesson. Bill would love the architecture. I will share this with him. Maybe we will be able to stop on one of our cross-country jaunts. We did visit Falling Water out near Pittsburgh, which was also designed by FL Wright. Isn’t it amazing that this beautiful and huge estate was actually someone’s residence?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Laurie – yes, I imagine Bill would be interested in this manor and powerhouse since he was an architect. I understand from general info I gleaned about the Estate, that they once conducted tours of the manor, even had private parties there, but since the renovations began, the deadline for completion and/or any renovation info is not available to the public since a non-profit corporation is in charge of the Estate, so only members/donors are privy to the updates. I am sure there will be a press release once it is completed and tours resume. You should wait until the renovations are done inside since they are reproducing everything in minute detail to recreate the manor as it was when the Fords lived there.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Rebecca says:

    A beautiful house and grounds, and the red buds are lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, just so much to see Rebecca. It took me so long to get these posts done as I took so many photos, especially the gardens and the landscaping. I really liked those trees too and I was happy I picked the weekend that they were all at peak/flowering. They had them all around the manor, along the river and throughout the wooded area.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. trumstravels says:

    What a beautiful spot, I could live there! lol I love history and architecture, if we ever get your way, we will be stopping there for sure. Wow 10,000 roses! That’s a lot and that is the roses only, she really loved her gardens. I love that you have the Mutt Strut, where I live we call it Strut for Strays to raise money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      You would like it Susan – you should wait until the restoration is all done because they conduct tours of the manor and it will end up being like a museum (and I remember you like museums). She did like her gardens and he liked his birdhouses – 500 of them. I wish they had pictures of them as I didn’t see any birdhouses where I walked. They were elaborate, multi-level birdhouses … you see why they had to have a gardening staff of 26 people!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Joni says:

    That was very interesting Linda! My kind of thing – history, old houses and gardens! I’m going to re-read it again. Looking forward to the lilacs and roses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked it Joni – yes, knowing you and your familiarity with English culture, this English manor-style home and the huge gardens would be interesting to you, as well as the history lesson. I wanted to include some history, but not too much and that is what took me so long to get these posts cranked out. It seems odd that I gave this place no mind for so many years, but back then it was a heavily wooded area where I traveled and in one area they eventually took down all the trees and made a huge mall (Fairlane Mall) right where I drove by daily. The lilacs are pretty – you’ll see them Wednesday and next Monday the rose gardens. I had some pictures of the perennial gardens, but left them out as it was such a long post. I wish I could find more info on the rose gardens – I finished that post last week and it will not be as long as this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Joni says:

    PS. When do they think they will have the interior renovations done?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I could only find general info on the renovations Joni – they expected the renovations to be done by 2020, but then ceased any work due to COVID. I researched everywhere I could to get info on an expected completion date and learned that info on the renovations is only given to members/donors of this non-profit corporation that is responsible for Fair Lane and the renovation process. I imagine there will be a press release and a media event once the tours begin again, for now it seems that mum’s the word. I saw a picture of several people on hands and knees doing some detail work on the wooden floors – quite painstaking and they are doing new floor coverings, window treatments – all new. I had a nice chat with the guard that first time there. She said they had private parties at one time and tours of the manor and it was quite popular as a tourist attraction. Clara and Henry Ford had a son, Edsel and Edsel and his wife lived in a mansion in Grosse Pointe (Michigan). It’s quite a huge house and there are tours of the mansion and grounds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        The house is so big that it seems like renovating would be a huge undertaking. Was the name of the house Fairlane….is that why they named the mall after it….or was it the street name? It seems close to the river too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Henry Ford’s adoptive grandfather came from an area in Ireland that was known as Fair Lane (that’s what I’ve read) and so he named the Estate after him. The street the Estate is on also has the name Fair Lane. I know the Fairlane car was named for the Estate and going to assume the mall is too (though the last two names merged the Fair and Lane together). Fairlane Mall/Town Center has been sold and they have some empty stores no longer in business and they are going to retool part of the parking lot into green spaces. They were building it while I was going to Henry Ford Community College. At the time, it was considered pretty modern and had a monorail system that went from the inside of the mall to a nearby hotel (The Hyatt Regency) and people would come to Dearborn to see historic sites and the Fairlane Mall was part of the tourist attractions. Glass elevators to get from one level to another – pretty snazzy back then. I went once, the first or second year it opened, for Black Friday – never again as it was an absolute zoo with a throng of people. My first and last attempt at Black Friday shopping.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That’s too bad – it sounded like a nice place to stay and convenient for tourists.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I thought so too – first they discontinued the monorail and that’s been a while but it was a real novelty at the time. The Hyatt Regency changed hands a few times, fell on hard times, had some issue over the years, a collapse of a walkway, some cleanliness issues. Fairlane Towne Center was also a big draw and it’s sad what happened to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I would love to go to any mall right now….especially one with a big department store. Our small mall is pathetic and half empty. I’ve tried ordering from Hudson’s Bay the past few weeks, but half of it has to go back as the sizes are all wrong….what a hassle and so annoying.

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      • Linda Schaub says:

        Because you are petite it is hard to find clothes and for years I had problems finding clothes that fit and were not short in the sleeves or like I was waiting for the floods in my pants. So I began sewing. Then they started having “tall” sizes which was a happy day for me. I have not sewn in years now. I buy mens’ pants for sweats and summer lightweight pants so they are long enough for me.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Here is a link below to see the Edsel and Eleanor Ford mansion. Big, but not the history like the parents’ place. In Dearborn, there is a lot of buildings and history associated with Henry Ford. They renamed Greenfield Village’s Museum “The Henry Ford” which most people just call it Greenfield Village for the entire complex. I’d like to go back and visit it, maybe when retired. You can get a yearly pass and they have a lot of events, all associated with history.
      https://www.fordhouse.org/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        It’s lovely….so peaceful…..nature and gardens and the house is beautiful. I knew about Greenfiled Village as I think my BIL took the kids there one year on vacation when they were young, as he used to work for Ford in Oakville.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        My father worked for Ford in Oakville too – transferred to the Woodhaven Stamping Plant and that’s why we moved here. Greenfield Village is nice – went on school trips (twice I think) and took my grandmother there and she had a great time as she grew up on a farm in Ariss (near Guelph) and could point out the farm implements, liked showing me the clothing she wore years before. She came home and told my mom she had a wonderful time reliving her youth. She left the farm with one of her sisters to work in the Big City a/k/a Toronto.

        Liked by 1 person

      • hbsuefred says:

        Well, I am retired and will soon be coming your way! This area is high on the list of places I want to visit before the end of the year after I move to Kalamazoo in June.

        I noticed that one of your replies confirmed my assumption re how the Fairlane Ford model was named so thanks for that.

        I am familiar with both the Biltmore and Hearst Castle as I have lived not far away from both at different times in my life. It will be interesting to compare Fair Lane to those. Ah – to be rich back in the day.

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      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well hbsuefred. be sure to see today’s post and last Wednesday’s post where you’ll see more info and pics about the Estate. I took so many photos I split them into three posts. I wish I could tell you when you can tour inside, but that info is not available right now (unless you’re a member/donor), but even touring the grounds is worth the trip. Yes, they did name the Fairlane car after the Estate, though I see the car is one word as opposed to the Estate which is two words in its name. I took a California Coast bus tour years ago and Hearst Castle was on the itinerary. Pretty incredible wasn’t it? That pool room sticks out in my mind. I’ve never seen the Biltmore Estate, but a fellow blogger lives in North Carolina and did a post on it one time and it was beautiful. If you would like me to find her post, just me know and I’ll send it to you.

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      • Linda Schaub says:

        I came back to this post hbsuefred to share a link to a Michigan blog you might enjoy following. It is a photography blog, but this photographer as well as other photographers share photos and stories of places around Michigan … you’re retired and will have time to visit some. Today’s post was about Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan – I would love to do that sometime. Here is the site:
        https://michpics.wordpress.com/

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  15. Zazzy says:

    I love lilacs and I look forward to seeing the lilac gardens there in full swing. I lived in a little house in Wyoming with lilacs planted on three sides of it – a bad thing if you don’t like spiders but beautiful. And I swear, at least in my memory, they bloomed all spring and most of the summer. My lilac here has a very short blooming cycle but is beautiful when it does. The whole estate looks like a lovely place to walk. Is it free for wandering the grounds so that you can include it in your rambles frequently? It does appear a little dangerous with those stone steps and I’m torn between feeling frustrated that it’s not wheelchair accessible and wanting it to stay the way it is without a bunch of unsightly concrete paths instead of those lovely stones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I just looked at my lilacs this morning when I was out – thankfully they are not in bud or blooming yet as we’re going down to 20 tonight with a little snow. My lilac trees are very old and don’t bloom much now, but last year I had a Little Miss Kim lilac bush bloom for the first time since I planted it in the mid-90s. I was amazed. Your lilacs sound lovely Zazzy – the smell must have been heavenly. Mine are not near the house so I have to go to the garden to smell them. Something happened to my backyard grass over the Winter and it is all mud. I saw a big rabbit back there in the Winter and see him running into the yard now, but he did not eat all the grass and leave moss, so I’m not going to blame him. The estate is free for roaming around and I usually go there at the end of a walk I take down the Rouge River Gateway Trail. It is a nice walk, over the water and through a wooded area, then suddenly I am at the estate grounds. It is very large and I wore myself out the first day I went as the grounds extend way past the house, down to the river and out to a pasture-looking area where the wildflowers are growing. Benches are everywhere because it is a lot of walking. In fact the header picture for tomorrow is a bench in the lilac garden. The layers of rocks in the Alpine garden have a very rickety set of stairs going up them. I went up, then pondered if there was another way to go down as the stones were uneven and left there for the aesthetic value and there were signs on the walkway and footbridge where the stones were to watch your step. I ended up walking out of my way to avoid going down those rickety steps. I like the stones, but yes, I think that part of the estate may unfortunately be off limits for some. The rose and lilac gardens have flagstone paths – I was there after it rained and that flagstone is a little slick.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zazzy says:

        It looks like a beautiful place to walk at any rate. But apparently one to beware of how far you are walking especially if you’ve already taken a long walk. You are lucky to have such amazing places so near you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        It was a gorgeous August day and it is rare in August you have no humidity and it’s sunny and even a little coolish temps, so I went to town. Last Summer, since we had so many rainy weekends in the Spring/early Summer and then hot and humid weather, if we had clear, cool weather, I went out several times on weekdays before I started work and got walks at large park and pictures done that way – I called them my “Seize the Day” posts and did that several times last year. Where I walk daily, it is shaded one one side of the Park, so that provides some respite from the sun and the Creek is lower, so it never floods there. I think I am lucky too Zazzy. I have even more parks near me, but they have been flooded due to all the rain. One in particular, that runs along the Rouge River (same river as runs behind this estate), has logjams and the park is closed due to flooding. So I’ll cross that one off the list for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I liked Calra’s definition of home as a place to live in and enjoy and find the strength to go on. Still, it must have been dazzling to need 26 gardeners to keep it looking good. Love the stone steps and walkways and little footbridges. I would be content to have a house the size of that potting shed! It would be fun to go there on the summer solstice to see that sun set “in the notch of the trees over the lake.” What a lovely place for a meandering walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I liked that quote too Barbara and was glad it was clear enough to read in the pictures. I can’t imagine a staff of 26 gardeners to maintain the gardens and walkways either. And they also attended to the 500 birdhouses. I wish I had pictures of those, but they are no longer there. Henry Ford liked birds and had 500 birdhouses situated around the estate. I’d be content living in the potting shed too – it was quaint and stone and I looked inside … took pictures but got the glass reflection of myself every time I took a photo. There were flowers every way your head swiveled.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Very interesting photos and history, especially about your own history of how you learned all of it. The Ford and the Frank Lloyd Wright connections likely had something to do with the construction/design and the use of the rocks available in the landscape. On a side note, I discovered something about FLW that I didn’t know about one of his employees this past week too. The history behind these people and their influence on our lives is a deep rabbit hole.
    Your photos are great – and detailed about what you saw. Thank you for all your efforts to capture the info that tells a great story of your visit. The gardens are beautiful. When you say 26 full-time gardeners is that year-round?! WOW. I look forward to seeing what you see when you go back there next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Shelley – I put this series of posts off for so long as I had a ton of pictures to go thru and I have more of the flower gardens that I decided not to use as the post and its pictures were already too long and I wanted to add some historical info as well. The renovations are extensive but now you have to be a member of the non-profit organization that has taken over the Estate to find out any info on the status. I know they are already deep into the renovations which ceased in 2020 for the pandemic, but they are ongoing and I would like to go inside and tour it when it is finished. I am sure it will be like a museum when it’s all done. I don’t know if the 26 gardeners are year-around or not – I guess not and I’m thinking they wouldn’t salt the pathways as they may be damaged, so maybe the gardeners do shoveling of those walkways as part of their gardening duties?

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you for a beautiful and information-filled tour of this estate, Linda! It seems like the perfect place to visit and explore. The gardens and river must attract wildlife. Did you see any birds while you were there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      It was beautiful to walk around and in mid-Summer there were flowers everywhere – the rose garden, the wildflower patches away from the house and all the gardens around the house. Amazing to see, but I saw not one bird and only a butterfly or two and some bees – that was it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting! Perhaps too much human activity or time of day? Either way,it’s a wonderful place to meander and stroll around on a sunny day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I went in the afternoon the first time – unusual for me as I generally go in the morning and see more critter activity. But the other two times were morning. There was not much activity going on, any of the times I was there – a guard out front and I saw some horticulturalists the second time, one visitor the third time. So that is not the reason. It was an enjoyable stroll. I should go in late Fall or in Winter – the only seasons I’ve not been. I went in Fall and they had a beautiful array of perennials still blooming.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some places don’t seem to have any animal activity, but if you sit quietly and watch for a while you’ll probably discover that there are some critters out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I’m going to go again when it warms up – I won’t do another post about it as I have one more post coming this Monday about the rose garden.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. bekitschig says:

    I can’t help but wonder why anyone would need 56 rooms. Do you even see them all in a week?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I agree with you Jeanine – they only had one child at the time and then only a few grandchildren later. I did read how many bathrooms, guest bedrooms they had – there was a billiard room, a swimming pool room, rooms dedicated to one thing. My small house could use a few more rooms to look less cluttered, but then again perhaps if the lady of the house paid more attention to housekeeping, it would not be necessary. I am a “saver” not a thrower”. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Dave says:

    “Our home is not a showplace…”, says Clara. If not, what do you call a 56-room estate instead? Would be interesting to see the other fourteen residences of the Fords. Had you not mentioned the architect I would’ve guessed Frank Lloyd Wright. The use of stone, the horizontal lines, and the dark-framed windows give away his influence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      You do have a point Dave – while everyone might like a little more room to ramble around in, a 56-room manor is a tad too much for ordinary living quarters and it could only be a showplace. Some of the vintage photos show the sun room, which overlooks the river, was their favorite room in the entire house. I am not familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright’s style so I would not have not recognized the manor as his influence.

      Like

  21. ruthsoaper says:

    It looks like an amazing place, Linda. Thank you for sharing it. I can only imagine what I would do if I could be a full-time gardener and have one or two to assist me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Neat architecture! 10,000 plant rose garden! Wow!!!! And i thought i was a collectorholic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, can you imagine that and ol’ Henry had 500 birdhouses around the Estate as he liked birds. Lucky the two could satisfy their hobbies and/or whims by having 26 gardeners. Pretty amazing.

      Like

  23. Pingback: Led Zeppelin: Wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today… (April 2022) – priorhouse blog

  24. Pingback: Meandering around Fair Lane Estate – Part II | WALKIN', WRITIN', WIT & WHIMSY

  25. Linda, I learned so much from this post! Thanks for the backstory and the pictures you took along the way.
    You mentioned how you drove by this place for years and worked for a college newspaper with the Ford moniker…I’m like that too. It blows my mind how I could overlook obvious connections. When you’re young and busy, there’s other stuff to occupy the mind. But your comment about that was relatable!
    Lovely pictures. I hope you get to visit the interior when it’s all done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      When it dawned on me, I was amazed I never made the connection. I agree with you – so much stuff was going on, you never stopped to pause and analyze things much; you just moved on to the next thing. Glad you could relate to it Esther. I hope to visit inside once it is finished – I read or heard they used to do tours of the interior before the renovations started. I will do a post on the inside when I go. I have always been fascinated with the Titanic and saw a website where you can pay to take an in-person tour or a virtual tour of all the artifacts from the Titanic and read some stories about it. The virtual tour is on two levels – even the cheaper level looks to be pretty comprehensive. Is this something you might be interested in seeing virtually for you and the kids – if so, let me know and I’ll send you the link. I guess you pay and can go on the site at different times until you are done “touring” the ship.

      Like

      • I have been a long time fan of the Titanic too! Could you send me the link? That sounds fabulous to do with the kids and will increase their interest rather than just learning from books. I love that stuff too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I have always been interested in the story too. I saw “A Night to Remember” a B&W film years ago, but never saw the more-modern movie with Leonardo DiCaprio yet. I am going to do this Titanic virtual exhibit, maybe over Memorial Day weekend when I have a little more time – you have two choices: full version versus light version and once you start it, you can access for a full week (seems reasonable to me). I was going to go to an exhibit of artifacts at Greenfield Village a few years ago, but they wanted about $37.00 for the tour. This can be done at your leisure.
        https://www.titanic.live/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great idea and info!! You got to see the Leonaro DiCaprio movie…makers the Titanic scenario so real and you’ll see why the Celine Dion song is associated with that movie.
        We must check it out! It’ll be a great history lesson and it involves technology; the latter is always a plus for the kids.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        OK, let me know what you think – I have to wait for when I have a little extra time. I haven’t been to the show in years, started renting videos from Blockbuster, then got cable, but cancelled cable eons ago – I never get time to watch the movies, etc. on Amazon Prime these days. I did see the B&W Titanic movie (“A Night to Remember”) which is on YouTube.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The website is amazing! We’re going to do the virtual tour soon. The ticket gives you access for one week. I hope you do this too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I think I will do it over Memorial Day, so I can take my time. I am looking forward to seeing it as I have always been interested in the Titanic. The ticket price is reasonable for being able to return if you don’t finish and no worries about crowds … the best part.

        Like

      • Yep, that’s the best part. No crowds and no rushing. We can go at our pace and take as many breaks as we like. Trust me, the little one will not stop talking so we can go back and review.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Tell them they are lucky if they watch it after school is out and they don’t have to write a paper about the tour and/or take a quiz on all the artifacts they saw. 🙂

        Like

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I sent you the link Esther, in case it goes to your SPAM filter for some reason. I know it’s not dinosaurs, but will be equally interesting. I just Googled “dinosaur virtual field trips” and quite a few came up, probably due to the pandemic. Only one month til school ends.

        Like

      • I’ll check it out! Thank you Linda. When I tell the kids Aunt Linda recommended it, they’ll be happy to learn more about it.
        26th is the last day of school. Wow, how time flies. It’s going to be a busy rest of the month for us with appointments for Ellis. I didn’t post about this yet but Ellis will have heart surgery in June so there’s a heart cath she needs to get done and other follow ups in prep for June. It’s weird how we’re fairing well despite and want to get this surgery behind us so we can enjoy the rest of the summer vacation. Another temporary hiccup for the Suhs…I’ll need a vacation after that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Ha ha – I’m getting a nice reputation for my recommendations. 🙂 End of school year is coming up soon. Sorry to hear about the cath procedure, but with Ellis getting bigger and stronger with that recent growth spurt, I’ll bet this procedure, unlike those procedures done when she was younger, will be a breeze. I’ll keep you in my thoughts – your family is always in my prayers … you rallied back from the eye issue, right … well, that’s the power of prayer. Yes, get it done early in the Summer to savor those school vacation times and your break from the normal routine.

        Like

      • Thank you for your sweet thoughts and prayers! This may sound corny, but you already know I kinda am. I gotta say that meeting you on WP has been one of the best experiences for me as a blogger.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, every day I include you and your family in my prayers Esther. Thank you for saying that and the feeling is mutual I assure you. Though we have never connected “live” on WP due to the time difference or schedules and, through we are 3,000 miles away, it feels like we have known one another for years. {{{hugs}}}

        Like

      • Awwww thank you Linda!! Ditto. Kids love Aunt Linda’s recommendations, pictures, comments, and posts. They know you as the witty one. A while back Ellis had a question about what she could say to a hypothetical bully who comments on her raspy voice. We came up with some answers but fell short. She then wondered if I could email you to ask if you would have any witty comebacks to someone who comments on her voice. My laziness for not reaching out…she throws me big challenges on a weekly basis.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        You can ask me anytime – I am honored to be asked my opinion Esther.

        To Ellis: Bullies are cruel and this hypothetical bully is ill mannered and mean to make remarks about your voice or anything else. I know all about bullying, believe me. I was ten years old when I moved here to the U.S. with my parents from Canada. I talked different … not with a raspy voice, but with a Canadian accent. Kids … even the teacher, made fun of my accent – the teacher ridiculed me. He made me stand up and read and everyone laughed at how I pronounced words. You are lucky Ellis because you have a brother who will always stand up for you and protect you from anyone who would be cruel and hurt you with words. Cruel words are just as bad as a punch to your arm or your gut. And you are lucky as your teacher is your mom who only wants the very best for you in life. But, if anyone ever comments on your voice, which I am sure only seems raspy to you and no one else, you stand up very tall and say “I was wondering about your voice, but would never have asked you about it because I was raised to be polite.” Then you turn and walk away. That’ll knock ’em off their feet and leave their mouth open catching flies. I also was beaten up by my classmates – I am glad you and Elliot will never have to endure that.

        Like

  26. Prior... says:

    Wow – 26 gardeners is a lot! And yes – moving thru the post we could see why they needed that many
    And typo on the date with the year Edison did the power plant – it says 2014 – but we can surmise it was not that date –
    Oh and so glad you added the link to this post in the part 2 – because I started there but was able to easily hop on over and get part 1 in!

    Also – I know what it is like to drag heels on post ideas – my fire hydrant photos were waiting on me for a long time!
    Hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      They still had some of the staff cottages on the grounds – that’s a lot of people tended to the gardens. Thank you for telling me about the mistake Yvette – I will go and edit that 2014 out of there. I proofread it carefully, but recall doing a term paper back in the day and you’d proof it and you’d get it back from the teacher and you’d spot a glaring error right away!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        Oh my goodness –
        I cannot tell you how many typos I miss in my on work but then spot them in others
        I think it is because we are too familiar with the content
        Also – part of it has to do with the way efficiency of the brain and how it fills in as needed –
        Anyhow – I don’t really point out typos usually – (and not that you have many because I am not sure I have ever seen any here – but I know a few bloggers who are known for them – hahah – and maybe I am as well – lol)
        But I mentioned it because this is not just a regular post – your coverage of the estate is that adept Linda journalism and I think this might become a resource on the web – and so with that in mind we want the typo outta there – hahah
        And feel free to delete these comments if you want to keep the comment section cleaned up…
        🌸🙏✌️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well I appreciate it Yvette – I don’t mind leaving our comments in. I type my posts as a Word document and put asterisks in the document where I want to put in my photos or links. Then I copy and paste it over to create a post. On posts which are long (most of them), you are right – you can see it too much and not notice a glaring error. Years ago, during my school years, I’d be typing a term paper, on a typewriter, (and not a self-correcting typewriter at that), and had to correct mistakes with a chalky piece of paper which looked terrible. I remember guessing at the length of a footnote and hoping it did not run off the page. So one time I decided to buy an erasable onion skin paper for a lengthy term paper. You simply used a regular eraser to remove a typo on the paper. I thought that was great – the term paper looked wonderful, but what I didn’t realize was the oils in your skin would wipe out the typewritten words as well. I had the paper in class and my forearms resting on it before turning it in at the end of class – wiped out a whole section of the first page!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        That is a really special experience with the onion paper! And really is something newer generations won’t quite understand – I once used a 5B pencil for a paper that had to be in pencil – but then it smudged all up – because the 5B is a soft sketching pencil and never again did I let that happen – 2H!!
        And I think I have seen the onion skin paper –

        And good idea to use Word for the post content – ⭐️😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Newer generations skip a lot of the frustrations we once had and they can’t even fathom our issues back then. Case in point: I was once the editor of the student handbook at the community college I attended before transferring to a four-year school. Because I thought it would look good on my resume, I volunteered to do be the editor and create the handbook. I was paid a small sum for my efforts. In the end, it took me all Summer to type and do the layout for the handbook and this was because we did NOT use word processing circa 1974, but we used a proportional spacing typewriter. In order to have the right margin look justified, you had to calculate how many spaces fit into each line. I remember some letters like “w” or “m” were extra wide and were 3 proportional spaces, where an “i” or “l” were just one space. I’d go to the school on my days off from the diner and at night, at home, I’d calculate how many spaces to do in between each word to make it line up without a ragged right margin – can you imagine? Now we just click “justified right margin” and I use a justified right margin in my blog and have for years, though not in the beginning, just since using the block editor. But what a pain that was. As I progressed through the Summer, I used more photos and less text. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        That handbook experience does sound trying – but it also sounds like you had the gift of experience and all that good learning that come from such a huge endeavor – and so now I see more of what files all that well rounded insight I detect here (and not to overstay that-)
        And I made business cards in middle school that allowed us to use real “plates” and the spacing issues you mentioned were similar. It was pretty cool to have business cards in 7th grade – lol
        And I made a small iron bookshelf

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, that proportional spacing was something else and I asked if I could take the typewriter home and thy didn’t go for that. It was huge, much bigger than a regular typewriter. And, I don’t think I mentioned that it was a non-correcting typewriter and so it had to be perfect. It would take me days to finish one page. That is cool having business cards in 7th grade. I had some business cards made as I take pictures of people sometimes and will ask if it’s okay and give them my card and tell them to look for it. Admittedly, sometimes the post does not get published for months. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        Hi! Nice to be live comment chatting!
        Not sure if it knew the blogger named Helen Chen – but she did the business card thing – and I didn’t know you did – 😉
        It is a good idea –
        I think I still have one or two of my cards but not sure – deep in an attic box – about 15 years ago I went through one of the few and have my son my strawberry erasers from 6th grade (it was so funny – they were in the package still and I must have treated them – still had a whisper of scent too- and he was so proud to have them- ha – now they are long gone !

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That had to be a first with live comment chatting Yvette, then I left to try to catch up on Reader. You are my next post to read and that post was four days ago. I used to write my blog title down on a piece of paper and if I mentioned it to someone I’d give them the paper, because my blog title is too long to rattle off … people just forget it and they can’t remember or spell my name either. Amazing the erasers still have the faint scent isn’t it?

        Like

      • Prior... says:

        well the erasers are LONG GONE now – haha – but it was special when I found them tucked away – and had that part of my youth to share. That is why I insist on keeping some of my boys goodies – not much – but they don’t see the value right now – and might some day down the rod – and if not – we will toss the last stuff then
        and hope your Friday went well. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, it is always fun to look at old memories. I wrote a post once about a Rubbermaid tub of memories I went through in the basement. It was a fun look back at when I was in my 20s. It did go well Yvette – happy for the weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        same here – bring on the weekend 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Saw three sets of goslings, so I figured that was cause to pull out the camera, even though I have a post filled with gosling photos tomorrow. Three families and all within a small area and different stages of growth. First time I saw any of them and I always look for nests along the water – saw nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        I look forward to seeing the goslings –

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I have an idea how to use yesterday’s three sets of geese and goslings without it being repetitive. So many ideas and photos – so little time, but at least I walked, took no pictures – saw no goslings today, came home and stayed on task for seven hours. It was a gorgeous weather weekend. Happy Mother’s Day to you Yvette!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        Thanks Linda – it was a nice Mother’s Day –
        Be over to check out you post soon!
        Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  27. That had to be difficult to cut back so many lilac plants!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, this disease they had. There were several signs along the walk where the lilacs are to explain what happened to them. That was in 2021 I visited – I’d like to try and go again in May this year. Maybe in a couple of weeks as we’re having a warm-up next week, so maybe they’ll be out. I won’t do a whole post on Fair Lane again, but will have a look at the lilacs and see if they rallied back.

      Like

  28. dennyho says:

    Thank you again Linda for sharing the backstory and photos of the Ford’s beautiful homes. We never what exists in our own backyards, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      You are welcome dennyho – that is so true, because I have lived here in Michigan since 1966 (after moving here from Canada) and never visited nor knew about this estate. It makes me wonder why this was not a field trip (instead of the zoo) during middle school or even high school?

      Like

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