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Showing posts from August, 2008

Sir John Bennett Sweet Shop (formerly known as Sir John Bennett Jewelry Store)

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Another English building that caught Henry Ford's eye was the Sir John Bennett Jewelry Store in Cheapside, located in the heart of London. When Bennett moved into the original building in 1846, he had replicas of the mythical giants Gog and Magog installed in the third floor clock mechanism. But, Sir John did not need to depend on the animated figures for fame - he made and repaired watches for royalty and others in government offices. For shipment from London to Dearborn, architect Edward Cutler scaled the building down from its original five-stories to two stories to fit the old New England custom of no structure being higher than the church steeple. There was quite a buzz with the press in the winter of 1930-31 when the movable Gog and Magog were removed and prepared for shipment to Michigan. Besides the two mythical figures, just the facade and the clock mechanism are what is from the original building. The figures continue to delight patrons every quarter hour in their new loc

Cotswold Forge

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Built around the same time (1620) as the Cotswold Cottage and Dovecote , the Cotswold Forge, from Snowhill, Worcestershire, in southwestern England, was reconstructed in the Village in 1931. The forge was operated by members of the Stanley family for nearly 300 years, until Charles Stanley's death in 1909. Before and during the early part of the industrial era, blacksmiths were essential to the survival of communities in Europe and America, making wrought iron tools and appliances for everyday use in the home and on the farm. One can just imagine... Children passing by on their way to and from school, stopping to pause to watch the blacksmith work his craft. The smell of the fire and of singeing hooves pervade the center of the village, while the sound of the hammer on the anvil could be heard all around. After its relocation, this building, just like the other blacksmith shop in the Village http://gfv1929.blogspot.com/2008/08/village-blacksmith-shop.html was used to demo

1930 - Original Building No Longer in Greenfield Village

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The Clark House The following is taken directly from the book, " A Home For Our Heritage " by Geoffrey C. Upward: "In June 1930, a small, rather nondescript frame house was erected on South Dearborn Road. Located in the area presently occupied by the Swiss Watchmaker's Chalet, the 1868 Clark House from rural Wayne County, Michigan, suffered the unusual fate of being torn down in later years. Evidently Ford felt the house contributed little to the Village." I have no photographs of the Clark House, but the 1935/36 guidebook does give us a sketch, as well as more information on the reason why Mr. Ford chose this particular structure to be placed in the Village: "Originally owned by Nelson Clark, whose brother, John P. Clark, was donor of Clark Park in Detroit. The building typifies the style used and developed extensively west of the Alleghenies, particularly in Michigan. This building was erected in 1868 by Sophira Litogot, an uncle of Mr. Ford's liv

Soybean Experimental Laboratory (formerly known as Soybean Laboratory and Experimental Laboratory)

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( This post is about a building located inside the open-air museum of Greenfield Village. If you are looking for a posting on old farm tools and equipment, please click HERE ) Built in 1930 in the Village, the original intention of this building was for the students who went to school in the Village to experiment in agricultural chemistry. Henry Ford also believed that his workers could find a way for farmers to use their crops in the industrial world. For instance, Ford designed Model A parts, made an experimental car body, and even a suit of clothes using soybeans! It now houses many various old-time farming implements and tools such as scythes, hayloaders, spiketooth harrows, handcorn planters, sulky cultivators, and so much more. Besides displaying the actual antique instruments, this building also holds a wealth of information about 19th century farming and the tools used according to the season of the year. .

Cotswold Cottage Dovecote

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This very interesting conversation piece was brought over and put up in Greenfield Village from the same part of England as the Cotswold Cottage and the Cotswold Forge - Chedworth, Gloucestershire - and was built the same year as the cottage itself - about 1620. Dovecotes, such as the one in the picture, were built to house doves or pigeons. In the 17th century, birds from dovecotes provided relief from smoked and salted meats during the harsh winters.

Cotswold Cottage (previously known as Rose Cottage)

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Henry Ford desired to show America's ancestral European life and sent his agent, Herbert Morton, to find a typical Cotswold stone house for Greenfield Village. Morton eventually located this circa 1620 Rose Cottage in Chedworth, Gloucestershire, England, and found that it was for sale. Once purchased, a builder and expert on Cotswold architecture was hired to restore the house while still in England. Along with the local British builders, they worked to attain an appearance more reflective of the 17th century, which required some major alterations to the house and barn. And, once completed, the workers dismantled the structures stone by stone - numbering each one individually - and packed them in gravel sacks. Soon the Cotswold collection was on its way to Dearborn, Michigan (via boat and then train), as were a number of the English builders, eager to help with the reconstruction. By September of 1930, the Cotswold Cottage was rebuilt on Michigan soil, ready to teach American v

Glass Shop (formerly known as the Sandwich Glass Plant)

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Using surviving bricks and the wooden framework from the original 1825 Boston and Sandwich Glass Company located in Sandwich, Massachusetts, Ford rebuilt the structure in his Village in 1930. In this building, skilled craftsmen blow glass using the techniques of 19th century gaffers. These original gaffers of the mid-19th century and earlier made the glass necessities needed such as drinking glasses, ornaments, bowls, and cups. During the 2003 renovation, the inside of this building was also renovated and has become a "modern" interpretation of glass blowing, allowing patrons of the Village to, for a price, make their own glass souvenir. .

Charles Steinmetz Cabin

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One of the next structures put up in the Village contrasted sharply with the stately Giddings House: the cabin of Charles Steinmetz. Steinmetz (born 1865 in a Province of Prussia) built his summer cabin on the banks of Viele Creek, off the Mohawk River near Schenectady, New York in 1896. The noted electrical engineer enjoyed the seclusion of this little summer home until his death in 1923, where he read books and worked out many problems he had. According to Wikipedia, Steinmetz " fostered the development of alternating current that made possible the expansion of the electric power industry in the United States, formulating mathematical theories for engineers. He made ground-breaking discoveries that enabled engineers to better design electric motors for use in industry. " He is credited with more than one hundred electrical inventions. The cabin was presented to Henry Ford in 1930 and was in place that same year. I find it interesting that such a genius preferred such simpl

Giddings Family Home (formely John Giddings House, Secretary House, and Secretary Pearson House)

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Once the grand opening ceremony to dedicate Greenfield Village on October 21, 1929 was over, architect Ed Cutler set up his office in the Plymouth House and immediately began work on the next project for the Village. Although several projects proceeded simultaneously, undoubtedly the first one to be completed was the reconstruction of the beautiful Secretary Pearson House, originally standing on Meeting House Hill in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1750. The visiting parlor This wonderful example of a New England colonial home was originally built by John Giddings, a prosperous merchant and shipbuilder, who lived there with his wife, Mehetable, and their five children. After 1790, it became the home of New Hampshire's first Secretary of State, Joseph Pearson. Cutler found the house having numerous additions added years after its original construction, and, by studying its layout, restored it to what he believed to be its earliest condition., which included a secret staircase leading

Greenfield: The Early American Village

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 " This is the only reason Greenfield Village exists - to give us a sense of unity with our people through the generations, and to convey the inspiration of American genius to our youth. As a nation we have not depended so much on rare or occasional genius as on the general resourcefulness of our people. That is our true genius, and I am hoping that Greenfield Village will serve that ." Henry Ford The Grand Opening of Greenfield Village took place on October 21, 1929, a date purposely chosen by Henry Ford to celebrate the electric light's golden jubilee (50 years!). A reason to honor his friend, Thomas Edison. The visiting dignitaries on that rainy October 21 morning saw a muddy, virtually treeless village of about 30 buildings. Besides Mr. Edison, guests included President Hoover, Madam Curie, Orville Wright, Will Rogers, and John D. Rockefeller - among many others. They arrived at Smith's Creek Depot on the locomotive known as the Sam Hill (now located inside the

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

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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.