Sunday, August 17, 2008

Original Buildings in the Village for the October 1929 Grand Opening But Are There No Longer

At this point, the buildings I have written about so far in each chapter of this blog, barring a few exceptions, are what Henry Ford had erected in the Village at the time of the grand opening that took place on October 21, 1929. I say "barring a few exceptions" because there were a number of other structures that were originally placed in the Village for the 1929 Jubilee that have since been removed. The above map - a copy of the original handed out on that very first rain-filled evening - will show the reader Henry Ford's original plan for Greenfield Village.
Some of the buildings listed below I have information on while others are seemingly lost to history (at least until I can make it back to the Benson Ford Research Center).
I also plan to add more photos as I am able to acquire them.
Please check the above map and compare with the structures below as well as what I have previously written about.
And stay tuned to see how Greenfield Village grew over the years.

The relocated buildings are as follows:

The Livery Stable / Riding Stable (located behind the Eagle Tavern):
Although there are plenty of barns in the Village, this particular one seems to have been removed sometime between 1983 and 1995. From what a former employee told me, it is believed that the move took place in 1994 or early 1995, the same year that the Pioneer Log Cabin/Salter House was also removed.
Where the livery/riding stable once stood is now a parking lot.

The Plymouth House:
Originally built in a Greek Revival style in 1845 in Plymouth, Michigan, it served as the home of Christian Fisher, a local cobbler who made and sold shoes from this dwelling. It was relocated to Greenfield Village in August of '29. Ford's right hand man, Ed Cutler, set up his office in this building once it was reconstructed.
It was removed from the Village during their "restoration" in 2003.
As often as I had been to the Village, for the life of me I do not remember seeing this house! Maybe because it was used more often as a store or as an office rather than a historic home.
Either way, I believe that it should not have been removed and, if the pieces are in storage somewhere I would love to see it returned where Mr. Ford intended.

The Gardner House:

Located in the Scotch Settlement area of Dearborn Township, the Gardner House was built in 1832 by Richard Gardner, one of the original settlers of the area, and he and his wife - with their ten children - lived in the relatively small house for many years. It was similar to the Pioneer Log Cabin, except that it has the additional refinement of clapboard siding.
Henry Ford recounted his own personal memories of the Gardner House: "This morning I was by a home called the Gardner Home, where, as a boy, I used to frequently stop when I was coming back from Detroit at a late hour.

Rather than go on to the house and disturb my father, I would sleep with the Gardner boys. This morning I was by that house because we plan on removing it to the historic village we are about to build."The structure was in place by June of 1929 and remained there until 1996 when it was removed to the premises of the Dearborn Historical Museum (http://www.cityofdearborn.org/departments/historicalmuseum/faq.shtml)
where it can visited according to the hours of the society.

Again, I do not understand why this building, which meant so much to Henry Ford, was 'cast out' of Greenfield Village. A plus is at least we can still visit this historic structure.



The Pioneer Log Cabin / Salter House:

Similar in basic design as the Gardner House, this 1820's (or 1840's, if the information at Crossroads Village is correct) log cabin met the same fate as its clapboard counterpart - in 1995 it was moved to Crossroads Village in Flint, Michigan (the Gardner Home removed to the Dearborn Museum grounds). The cabin was originally located about a quarter of a mile from the Ford Farm and had been occupied by John Salter, a German immigrant, of which Ford would visit.
Ed Cutler remembered that the whole structure was carted over in one piece on a large truck.All the photos here were taken at Crossroads Village. You can see the treasure that Greenfield Village removed from their grounds.


The Substation and the The Locomotive Shed:
These two structures are listed on the original 1929 map of the Village for the Grand Opening, but I could not find anything about either of them. That is, until someone by the name of RP Mayer left a comment on this posting (see below). This is what he wrote: "The substation is actually another name for the Edison Illuminating Company’s Station A, which still exists in the village. If you look at the old map, this is the same location as the present building."

As for the locomotive shed he went on to say, "The locomotive shed on the old map is located across the street from the Menlo Park Complex. When the village originally opened, Thomas Edison’s electric train locomotive was displayed and demonstrated at this location in the shed. The train and shed were later removed. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I think it was in the 1930s."

Rp, I certainly appreciate your information! Thank you!

2 comments:

rpmayer2000 said...

Hello Historic Ken!

Like you I have been visiting Greenfield Village for many years. I was aware of some buildings that have been removed in recent years. I decided to do a little more research to identify other former buildings that are gone, which is how I came across your great blog.

I am leaving this note to comment on The Substation and The Locomotive Shed, which as you pointed out, showed up on the early map of the village. The substation is actually another name for the Edison Illuminating Company’s Station A, which still exists in the village. If you look at the old map, this is the same location as the present building.

The locomotive shed on the old map is located across the street from the Menlo Park Complex. When the village originally opened, Thomas Edison’s electric train locomotive was displayed and demonstrated at this location in the shed. The train and shed were later removed. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I think it was in the 1930s.

Historical Ken said...

Thanks so much, rp mayer, for the duper-sleuth information. I very much appreciate it.
And thank you for the kind words. Please feel free to pass along any other info and I will make sure to give you credit.