Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Martha-Mary Chapel aka The Chapel of Martha-Mary

By mid 1929, Henry Ford's Village was falling into place nicely. He knew what buildings he owned - whether they were already in the Village or were in the process of being removed to the Village from other locations - and he had in his mind what he wanted in place for the October dedication ceremony.
However, in the area of what was considered to be the center of activity - the Village Green - were two structures conspicuously absent: a church and a town hall.
I'm not sure why Mr. Ford did not find and purchase an authentic period church and town hall, but instead he instructed his right-hand man, Ed Cutler, to design and build each structure right there in the Village, of which commenced simultaneously, facing each other at the front and back of the Village Green.This non-denominational chapel design was based on a Universalist church in Bradford, Massachusetts. The bricks and the doors came from the building in which Henry Ford and Clara Bryant were married in 1888 - the Bryant family home in old Greenfield Township (from which the Village name was taken), and the bell, according to the 1933 guide book, was cast by the son of Paul Revere.
The name "Martha-Mary" came from the first names of his mother and mother-in-law.
Sticking by his original New England village plan, Ford made sure that the steeple of the church was the highest point in Greenfield Village. This was as it was in most towns across America. Once a very religious nation, towns and villages were built around the place of worship, and the buildings of the towns were never taller than the church steeple, therefore, no matter where a townsfolk was at, they could always find the church because of its height.Actual weddings are performed there throughout the year and, during the Civil War Remembrance Weekend over the Memorial Day Weekend a period church service is held for the reenactors.



Beth Battey said...

According to what I know of the chapel, the chapel was originally named the Mary-Martha Chapel, but Mr. Ford's wife either balked, or requested that her mother's name come first in the name of the chapel, and Henry thought fit to change the name.

Historical Ken said...

That's interesting. I will have to check that out.
I appreciate the extra information!