Henry and Clara Ford are well known for the Fair Lane estate that they built for their residence in Dearborn, a magnificent and beautiful property that is now owned by the University of Michigan. The previous abode was this large and attractive single-family structure at the corner of Edison and Second.
Ford's automotive production made him one of the nation's richest individuals even before he sold thousands of Model T's. He had a strong interest in architecture so he asked the Detroit firm of Malcomson, Higginbotham and Clement to design the Italian Renaissance Revival brick home that you see. There is a large porch with Tuscan columns, impressive side windows with balustrades accompanied by a limestone arch. Ford devoted about one-half million dollars to the construction of this home. He had a machine shop built above the garage, ostensibly for use by his son, Edsel.
Henry and Clara Ford lived here from 1907 until 1915 when Fair Lane was completed. This was, arguable, the most productive period of Ford's long and very many-faceted life. He developed his ideas for the Model T while living here, as well as the ideas for a $5 per day pay rate. Note that this house was quite close to both his Piquette Avenue plant and his Highland Park factory. This was before Ford developed his unique and ineffectual ideas for ending World War I, his fantasies about running for president or his diatribes about Jewish bankers. Boston-Edisonalong with Indian Villagedeveloped in the early automobile years as neighborhoods where the newly rich owners and executives could exhibit their tastes for large and elegant homes. Boston-Edison, unlikely some other prosperous neighborhoods, developed a reputation for not excluding Jewish residents and, after World War II, was one of the first very upscale neighborhoods to permit African American residents.
Date of completion: 1907
Architects: Malcomson, Higginbottom and Clement
Designer of the Gardens: T. Glenn Phillips
Architectural Style: Italian Renaissance Revival
Use in 2000: The same as in 1907: a single family residence
Michigan Historical Register: P25112 Listed July 17, 1986
Michigan Historical Marker: Erected: March 23, 1989. This is clearly visible at the intersection of Second and Edison
Photo: Ren Farley, September, 2002
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