Ryan Newson

Ryan Newson

Edsel Ford Summer Home Restoration

This Detroit home was built for Eleanor and Edsel Ford, and was where Henry Ford II was born. Rumor has it that Eleanor hand-stenciled the linen cabinets in the servants quarters. The history in the house was palpable. The house was owned by the Ford family until the 1960s, when it was first sold to another party. Leonard Willeke, the house’s architect, had designed the furniture for it as well, but everything had been sold off or lost during its private ownership. I was hired to do a bit of architectural sleuthing and reconstruct the original furniture and architectural detailing for the current owner.

These are some of the only photographs taken of the house in it’s original state. Most of the records we had were the original elevation drawings made by Willeke in beautiful hand-drawn ink on linen. The interior was surprisingly modern for 1915, an interesting take on the then-popular Craftsman style. If you look in the back of the room you can see Henry Ford II’s high chair. You can also see through the window into the garden where an original Pewabic Pottery fountain had been.

I ended up redesigning and rebuilding the front fence, back fence and garden gate, some interior cabinetry, and a small run of dining chairs. Our budget did not allow for the top upholstery or the carvings on the seat back, but I added the small dovetail detailing as a nod to the Craftsman influence.

  • For David Chicatelli

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