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Fare Lane
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7490

PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject: Fare Lane Reply with quote

Next week "This Old House" visits Fare Lane, Henry Ford's house currently undergoing restoration. Wikipedia says, "Frank Lloyd Wright participated in the initial design. However, after Wright fled to Europe ... Marion Mahony Griffin completed the design...." Well, we all know to take Wiki-anything with a grain of salt, but it will be interesting to see what, if anything, of MMG survived after Ford replaced her.
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jmcnally



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 855

PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's Fair Lane

I have always felt that Griffin's touch can still be seen in certain horizontal elements that are clearly not part of the Cotswold design (sorry for the large size)



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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14328
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh. The battlements are disturbing -- and distinctly ante-Prairie !

Fairlane, as one word, became a Ford model name, post-war (starting in the 1957 model year ?).

S
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jmcnally



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 855

PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Battlements would have been key to what Henry Ford really wanted, which is why his hiring of FLW was baffling. When you consider their opposing views of tradition and morality (Ford had an entire office of men who dropped in to employees' homes to make sure they were living a moral lifestyle), you can see that the relationship was doomed to failure. It's a miracle that any concepts survived to the home as built.

Son Edsel's house is more consistent with Henry's biases. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edsel_and_Eleanor_Ford_House
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had a '57 Fairlane. Black and canary yellow.
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Reidy



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1343
Location: Northern CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alvin Rosenbaum's Usonia: Frank Lloyd Wright's Design for America gives some history of this building. Ford's Muscle Shoals project was the Alabama connection.

He says that the plan was to commission Wright, but this did not go through because Wright left for Europe. Von Holst took it over, and the Fords replaced him in turn, leading to a lawsuit that they settled out of court.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5587
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think in this case, I'd take the Edsel over the Fairlane...

My first car was a Fairlane, too.
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3164
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I was told by a docent (should we believe them?) Mrs. Ford was the primary proponent for the Cotswold-ization of the estate and its effect is most evident on the main house at Fair Lane. Henry's garage/shop/powerhouse on the estate was revised to "fit" the restyle, but it received far less attention than the house and as a result retains a little more of its Prairie genesis. See pics:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Lane#/media/File:HenryFordEstatePowerHouse.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Lane#/media/File:HenryFordEstateGarage.jpg

The house still has its moments:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Lane#/media/File:HenryFordEstateSouthSide.jpg

A set of HABS drawings:
https://www.loc.gov/resource/hhh.mi0640.sheet?st=gallery

The plans are not Wrightian by any means, but they are not typical of a robber baron's mansion of the period either...from what I understand, some construction had begun before the redesign, and the footprint has some remnant of the Prairie start.
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Reidy



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1343
Location: Northern CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The third of DRN's photos is presumably the swimming pool, which Rosenbaum says had the strongest Griffin participation.

Wright said that when he built a house he worked primarily with the husband or with the wife and that he preferred to work with the husband. Mrs. McCormick is supposedly the one who decided not to go with Wright; Mabel Ennis, according to Lloyd, is the one who wanted the un-Wrightian alterations.

Similarly, the Fondation le Corbusier in Paris consists of two houses. The more interesting, which is open regularly to visitors, is the Villa La Roche (Stein), for a client who gave him a free hand and said to send him a bill. The other is the Villa Jeanneret, for his brother. Mme. J was on top of everything, and they use the resulting house primarily for archives and offices.
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3164
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My recent radiant heating issue has me pouring over period correspondence relative to the Sweeton's construction of their house.....they acted as a team. Muriel was a weaver and very "arty", she was all about the art, design, and aesthetics of the place; J. Alfred, an Annapolis and MIT graduate who had a career as naval architect, was intimately involved with the technical aspects of the design and construction. Each corresponded routinely with Wright, and more so Davy Davision on their respective areas of focus, seemingly without ruffling feathers. J. Alfred was truly a "trust, but verify" type person.
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jmcnally



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 855

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DRN wrote:
From what I was told by a docent (should we believe them?) Mrs. Ford was the primary proponent for the Cotswold-ization of the estate


They may have read too much into her involvement. She definitely had control over the interior and the furnishings; she had even designed the interior of an earlier marital home. Since she was of English descent (as was Henry), the English design nay have stirred her emotions. That style, though, was a deep part of Henry's being, as evidenced by Henry's decision to buy a cottage in the Cotswold region, have it dismantled, and reassembled at Greenfield Village - all part of a tribute to his ancestors.

I'm not saying Clara did not have an influence, and Henry deferred to her for a lot of decisions (like the interiors and household staffing decisions), but I would not turn Henry into just an interested bystander.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7490

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The gable ends seem to be the only survivors of MMG's contribution. The plan is nothing like the one she drew ... with a hefty assist from Walter.
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jmcnally



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 855

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roderick Grant wrote:
The gable ends seem to be the only survivors of MMG's contribution. The plan is nothing like the one she drew ... with a hefty assist from Walter.


I'm inclined to agree, but when I was inside for an event years ago I wasn't paying attention to details, so I don't know if there may be elements we haven't seen yet. In fact, the detail I remember most is decidedly anti-Wright: Henry had a large room built in an 1800s style so they could have square dances in a rustic setting.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14328
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with what (I think) Peter wrote; I'd take Edsel's version of historicism over Henry's, hands down. Edsel spent his money on craft and a loving recreation of a building tradition, nicely landscaped -- from what I can see. Henry's estate seems dead on arrival, by comparison. I, too, like that "South" view (east, actually ?) of Fair Lane, the swimming pool structure; readers will have to analyze that wing to determine why it seems to show some life . . .

SDR
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jmcnally



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 855

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edsel's estate has been handled better. Henry had Jens Jensen landscaping (as did Edsel), so it was undoubtedly a real beauty when the Fords were still alive. What you see today is a construction project in progress.

Eleanor (Edsel's widow) continued to live at the Gaukler Point house until the 1970s. Upon her death, a substantial sum was left to assure the continued maintenance of the house and the grounds as a museum and events center. Henry's house was starving for funds, allowing it to fall into less-than-the-best decisions. Donating it to the University of Michigan for creation of the U-M Dearborn campus benefited many people, but did not benefit the property itself.

Fair Lane is being renovated and restored now because management of the estate was turned over to the Edsel & Eleanor Ford group - a move that was frowned upon here in Grosse Pointe because it was seen as a potential money grab by a mismanaged and downtrodden property. I have been told that were assurances, though, that Gaukler Point would not suffer from the management merger. In an unusual move, though, the Edsel estate sold one of its valuable paintings a couple years ago for capital improvements, leading some to question whether its mission is indeed changing due to subsidizing Henry's estate.
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