Dec 21, 2009

Dining With The Ford's

Every year my husband Sandy and I try to do a couple of special things during the holidays.  We always enjoy an outing with couples and my sister-in-law and best friend, Jeri, always do something just the two of us in December to celebrate our long friendship.  Last year Jeri and I went to a Christmas tea at a beautiful little tea room in our town.  And Sandy and I saw a live performance of White Christmas at the historic Fox Theater in Detroit with our Bible study group - wonderful.  Hubby and I also went to Greenfield Village in Dearborn with another couple for the fabulous Holiday Lights event.  It was minus 21 degrees!  Greenfield Village is on the Henry Ford grounds and is a community of beautiful historic homes, each street is a different decade.  The homes were decorated for Christmas in typical style of the period.  In spite of the bitter cold it was a fabulous evening. This year there didn't seem to be a lot of stuff offered in the Detroit area.  I think the economy is so bad in this part of Michigan due to the tremendous auto industry layoffs that some of the theater companies didn't come here.  I'm usually the one to plan outings for our social group and I was beginning to think that we were going to be out luck this year.  I looked for a long time for two different December events. Finally, BINGO!  We ended up attending three holiday events in December, all on the Henry Ford estate.  On December 4 we took our grandchildren to Santa's Cottage on the grounds.  It was just a precious little place and we had a wonderful evening.  The staff provided five or six craft stations for the children and the last stop was a lantern lit walk to Santa's Cottage.  On December 11, my sister-in-law and I went to the Holiday Concert Luncheon at Fair Lane Manor on the Henry Ford estate.  We had such a wonderful time together, as we always do.  We ate a wonderful lunch of sea scallops in the music room, followed by a performance of Christmas music. Afterward, we were invited to wonder around the main level of the mansion.  I couldn't believe that I forgot my camera!  No fear, because on December 17 my husband and I went to the Candle Lit Christmas Dinner and Walk with some dear friends, again at the Henry Ford Estate, Fair Lane Manor.  It was absolutely incredible!  The turkey dinner was scrumptious, the staff was lovely, and the tour of the mansion was just too wonderful.  I wish you could all have been there - especially you, CeeKay!  After dinner we were led by a guide throughout all three levels of the mansion by candle light.  I could seriously get used to living like the Henry Ford's!  I want to show you some pictures from the evening and also of that sweet Santa's Cottage.

The Henry Ford Estate, Fair Lane Manor - Dearborn, Michigan, built 1914
(even at that time the cost was nearly 2 million)

The magnificent entry and staircase...

The library...

When we first arrived on Thursday evening with our friends we were invited to sit and chat in the library until our table was ready for our seating.  We so enjoyed the beautiful room and the amazing historical photos of the Fords with interesting and impressive people like Charles Lindbergh.

Look at that ceiling!

A beautifully decorated fireplace in the Ford family swimming pool room where dinner was served.

Our dear friends Terry and Pam are on the left; my husband Sandy and I are on the right.

The Silver Strings Dulcimer Society (in historic attire) provided fabulous dining music.

The beautiful ceiling in the pool room...

The rustic family room where Henry Ford and other innovative thinkers like Harvey Firestone put their heads together to create some impressive business deals.  The room was also used by the Ford grandchildren for play.  Henry Ford was committed to utilizing and protecting nature.  This room was the only room in the house with this rustic style.

This was actually a spring water well in the family room.

Edsel Ford was Henry and Clara Ford's only child.  This was his bedroom.  Edsel married a member of the Hudson family and she very much wanted to live in an area that she considered a more socially impressive area of Michigan.  Clara Ford so wanted her son and his bride to live at Fair Lane that she talked her husband into building a bowling alley, a billiards room and a swimming pool in the mansion to tempt Edsel.  Henry indulged his wife, but Edsel never lived at Fair Lane again after his marriage. 

Henry Ford's private bedroom...

I included this photo of the bathroom in Henry's bedroom because I wanted to show you the four faucets, two are on the sink and two are above the sink on the wall.  Clara Ford believed the hard well water was too harsh on a lady's skin so she had her husband install hot and cold faucets for the regular hard well water and hot and cold faucets for softened water in every bathroom in the house.  He also installed pressurized air outlets in every bathroom wall so the ladies could dry their hair, as well as a central vacuuming system.  Henry Ford was ahead of his time for 1914.

Henry and Clara Ford's master bedroom...spectacular!

The sleeping porch just off the master bedroom, where Henry and Clara slept in the summer.

The chandelier hanging over the master staircase is 300 years old...

Isn't this wreath beautiful against the huge leaded glass windows on the landing of the staircase?  It was on this landing that Clara Ford told her husband that if he did not negotiate with the new union she would pack up and leave and he would never see her again!  As we know, Henry followed his wife's suggestion.

The dining room...

The music room...this is where Jeri and I lunched.

The formal living room...
Mr. Ford spared no cost when building Fair Lane.  Most of the rooms were panelled with rare and expensive exotic woods.  Seeking to lighten the appearance of her home, Mrs. Ford waited until her husband was traveling and she had the living room painted a creamy white.  When Henry returned home he made Clara promise him that she would not cover any more of the irreplaceable paneling with paint.  When the guide was telling this story I could feel my husband's eyes boring into my back!  I knew he would mention that story later, since he always says that if he is gone too long he will come home to more paint somewhere!  And, yes.  It was the first thing he mentioned when we got back to our car!

And again, as we were leaving I couldn't resist another shot of that magnificent staircase!

Had to show you these - Clara wanted her home to look like a castle.  I took these last two photos in the ladies room - it was quite something!

Santa's Cottage, Fair Lane Manor

Sydney loved Santa and went well prepared with a long list of hopes and dreams.  She had called me earlier in the day to tell me that she had chosen the outfit she planned to wear to meet Santa and it would be "extra Christmas fancy", including a purple boa!

Isabelle can live without the big guy.  Mommy had to go with her but she still wouldn't look at him!

Always ready for a photo op, Sydney with Mrs. Claus.

If you live or visit near Dearborn Michigan and you have never been to Fair Lane, Greenfield Village, or the Henry Ford Museum plan to visit.  It is a delightful place.  The gardens are spectacular in the summer and the mansion is a treat to visit anytime.

Merry Christmas everyone!


ceekay said...

Oooooh, I wish I could have been there. I love HFM and Greenfield Village so much, but I was never anywhere near it at Christmas. Hmmm, another Michigan trip in the future???

southerninspiration said...

Sounds VERY fun and festive! I'd love to see, so thanks for the tour and the pics!


Carolyn said...

I enjoyed your post! You found some lovely things to see and do.
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and many blessings for the New Year.

Heather said...

absolutely stunning! gorgeous gorgeous! how fun.