Images courtesy Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Edsel Ford to The Motor City. His father Henry may have put the world on wheels, and his son Henry II may have saved the company, but the contributions of Edsel and his wife Eleanor to the art, architecture and culture of Detroit from the 1920s until his untimely death in 1943 were unmatched. His role in transitioning the family business from the utilitarian Model T to modern, stylish designs that could compete head-to-head with General Motors and Chrysler is also not insignificant.
Now the home of the Ford scion and his wife in Grosse Pointe Shores, a genteel suburb of the city, has been designated a National Historic Landmark—a designation shared with the other historic home operated by the same non-profit group, Henry and Clara Ford’s Fair Lane mansion in Dearborn. Mrs. Ford occupied the Ford House until her 1976 death and then willed the property be used “for the benefit of the public” thereafter.
Gaukler Point combines both traditional decorating motifs…
The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, known originally as “Gaukler Point” for the geographic feature it occupies on Lake Saint Clair, was completed in 1929 to a design by renowned architect Albert Kahn, who was also responsible for many other Motor City buildings such as the Packard Plant, Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park “Crystal Palace” assembly plant where the moving assembly line was perfected, the Dearborn Inn hotel near The Henry Ford museum complex and the Fisher Building in Detroit’s New Center. The grounds were designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen, who also landscaped Fair Lane.
National Historic Landmark status, conferred by the United States Secretary of the Interior and administered by the National Park Service, is accorded only to sites of “exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.” The designation will permit the site greater access to technical assistance and funding opportunities to ensure that it is preserved and continues to serve as a local recreation opportunity for the Detroit area and the nation.
…and (period) modern designs.
There may not (yet) be a Detroit-area automotive history museum, but the metropolitan area abounds with opportunities to see and experience the history of the industry whose rise and fall have been intertwined with the fortunes of the city, the region and the entire country. We’re glad to see Gaukler Point will be preserved for years to come with the assistance of its new classification as a National Historic Landmark.