The Henry Ford again
But first things first. Breakfast at Dime Store where I’d say they hit the spot perfectly!
From there, it was a relatively short drive through the Detroit suburbs to Dearborn, where we planned to take over where we left off yesterday.
Greenfield Village is part of The Henry Ford and consists of a “village” created from structures moved mostly from different parts of the USA. Many have historical significance but apart from Thomas Edison’s home, we had no idea what to expect.
An early arrival was a great idea. You know how we like to have these places to ourselves.
Mind you, we did wonder if we should have dressed for the occasion.
Or perhaps used a different mode of transport to get us here?
We began in the collection of buildings known as the Liberty Craftworks.
Arranged around a small pool, it was quite an attractive setting.
First, the weaving shop, brought from Bryan County, Georgia.
Here were sock looms (familiar to anyone who’s lived in Leicestershire!)
and a set of conventional looms too, both manual and powered. A young docent was on hand to explain and answer questions, but just like the museum yesterday, this was “bite size” learning. Fine with us. We had plenty to see and do and time was limited, as always.
So, on to the potters next. Here was a 7-day working pottery, creating items to sell and to use throughout the park. I think we arrived before the potters, though
A couple of artists were demonstrating the sgraffito technique on slip-glazed plates, though, which was interesting to watch.
Next stop, the print shop where Todd was demonstrating the Washington Press. He printed off a small handbill as an example – thank you, Todd, it’ll go nicely in my journal!
The tinsmith had just gone for coffee, so we heard a brief explanation of the uses of his craft before going next door to the last of the craft workshops.
Here was the glass workshop, hot as hell and not really doing much creating whilst we were there. We didn’t hang about.
Outside, life was perking up and things were happening.
We were enjoying wandering about the small streets, poking our noses into interesting buildings to see what was going on.
Our next conversation was with the lady in Grimm’s Jewellers, which had been situated opposite Edison’s workshop in 1881. When Henry Ford was working for Thomas Edison, he’d cycled over to the shop frequently, to chat to Englebert Grimm.
The engineering precision and manual skills required for clock repair were greatly admired by Henry Ford and the two men became good friends. This was the actual shop, moved piece by piece from its original location and rebuilt here, we were told.
The village was a pretty busy place this morning; the first full day of the summer season. There were plenty of small activities in which to participate, led by the staff members in costume.
As we headed over to the white house on the main street, we noticed a woman telling a story. We knew this to be the home of the Wright Brothers, and she was telling the story of their first flight, speaking as their sister, Katharine.
No sooner had we stopped to listen, when look who came home!
Wilbur and Orville Wright continued the story themselves, explaining their background and what it had been like. They played a good part, were interesting to listen to and the whole show was rather entertaining.
Having heard the story, we went next door into their original cycle store and workshop, moved here from Dayton, Ohio. There was a model of their original plane with photos of the first flight.
In the workshop, behind the cycle shop were the original tools and machines used by the brothers. A docent was explaining that the most difficult part was making a wooden propeller, which had not been done before but which later engineers have considered to be extraordinarily effective.
Back out on the street, a young woman came up to us and invited us to see a show, taking place in the Town Hall shortly.
We were ready for a break, so settled into our seats and enjoyed the pre-show: 6 talented singers who performed music by Cole Porter. We chuckled at some of the words:
If you're ever in a jam, here I am.
If you're ever in a mess, S.O.S.
If you're so happy, you land in jail. I'm your bail.
It's friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.
When other friendships are soon forgot, ours will still be hot.
Da da da da da da dig dig dig.
If you're ever down a well, ring my bell.
If you're ever up a tree, just phone to me.
If you ever loose your teeth when you're out to dine, borrow mine.
The show which followed was equally great and was themed around Broadway shows. Four more extraordinarily talented performers sang and danced their way through thirty minutes of non-stop fun. The whole show was right on the button – not a step or note out of place. Amazing.
After that, a look around Thomas Edison’s workshops seemed a little tame.
Even though these were the actual machines with which he lit those first electric lights, somehow, it felt a little empty.
The lamps themselves were rather beautiful though, hand made especially for the workshop here.
Edison’s chemistry labs were here too, together with his other works, including the phonograph.
As we stood outside his workshop, we questioned whether we needed to continue right along to the very end of the village, to view the Cotswold cottage? We decided that, on balance, we didn’t!
Greenfield Village had more than delivered!
Time to move on, though, driving along Ford Avenue, where almost every building bore that name too. Had we more time, it’d have been fun to do a factory visit, but we had other things on our list!
Except… Huh. We’ll just have to come back tomorrow!
We “made do” with the Fisher Building, just along the road. This Art Deco classic looks interesting from the outside, but step inside and…
It being Monday, we could only explore the ground floor – had it been a weekend, we could have taken a tour of the building. But no matter. We were happy to wander and admire.
It was stunning.
The ceilings were beautiful.
And the mosaic panels on the wall, so brightly coloured and beautifully constructed.
Inside is a theatre, closed this afternoon, so it wasn’t possible to see inside. But surely, it was equally elaborate.
Opposite, just across the road is the equally impressive former HQ of General Motors, now renamed Cadillac Place and being converted into apartments.
We headed for a highly recommended “Made in Detroit” branded shop, Shinola where the design was lovely, the staff delightful, the journals very practical and the rest of the stock
rather too expensive for a mere souvenir, sadly.
Never mind. We consoled ourselves with BBQ ribs at Redsmoke this evening.