Detroit with Kids: The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, MI
Want to escape to the Cotswolds but can’t find room in your budget for a ticket to England? Try taking a tour of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford house! Edsel was the only child of Henry and Clara Ford and a Ford Motor Company executive. He and his wife Eleanor knew that they wanted a house with English architecture, so they traveled to England with architect Albert Kahn, eventually settling on the Cotswolds style. Many components of the house were purchased from English manor houses that had fallen into disrepair while other elements, like ceiling design, were replicas of items they observed in their travels.
Despite having a large fortune, the house doesn’t feel overdone. That appears to have been by design. Eleanor was intent on creating a home that people could feel comfortable in. She even had her sons share a room so that they could get to know each other better.
The house’s setting on Lake Saint Clair is lovely. Edsel would often commute from their Grosse Pointe Shores house to the Ford Rouge plant by speedboat. Be sure to allow time in your visit to explore the grounds and outlying buildings.
A highlight for our kids was the playhouse. This was designed by Clara Ford for Edsel and Eleanor’s only daughter Josephine. The playhouse is an entire house scaled for a child, including a functioning kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Unfortunately, Josephine was a tomboy and didn’t spend much time playing there. I don’t think our kids would have felt the same way!
Know before you go:
- The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House is undergoing renovations and reopens for tours on April 2, 2019.
- You’ll want to baby-wear on the house tour (it’s not stroller-friendly), but do bring your stroller on the bus from the parking area if you’ll want it while you’re strolling the grounds.
- We thoroughly enjoyed the general house tour. If you are interested in a specialty tour such as the Behind the Scenes tour or the Architecture tour, be sure to check their website before you go as some of them are only available certain days of the week.
- The house is decorated for the holidays from late November through early January.
- The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House is a Blue Star Museum, so admission is free between Memorial Day and Labor Day to active duty military and their families (up to six guests).