Sunday 2 October 2011

Kennedy's Limousine & Lincoln's Chair

Would you like to visit Thomas’ Edison’s laboratory?  Would you like to see where Daniel Webster composed his English Dictionary?  How about the chair that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. in 1865?  Or the Ford limousine that President John F. Kennedy was riding in was he was shot in the Dallas motorcade in 1963?  How about boarding the bus on which Rosa Parks was denied a seat back in 1955?  Would you like to assemble a Model T from scratch or build small items on an assembly line? 

Photo of Kennedy's limousine courtesy 

You can do all of these activities at Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, built by Henry Ford back in the 1929.  The village and museum represent the great contrasting philosophy of Mr. Ford:  he did more to industrialize America than any one entrepreneur as displayed in his museum; and yet, he longed for the rural landscape of his childhood seen at his pioneer village.  The American industrialist was constantly looking forward and looking backward at the same time. 

Photo of Lincoln's chair courtesy

The museum shows the progress of America from pioneer times to the industrial revolution to the present day.  The outside of the red-brick domed structure is patterned after Independence Hall in Philadelphia (just like the American Pavilion at Disney World’s EPCOT).  Once inside, guests look up at the high ceilings which are made from the hulls of ships turned upside down, giving you an idea of the size of the museum.  Visitors see every machine from cars to planes to trains to busses to cotton gins to tractors.  From the ceiling hangs Charles Lindbergh’s plane “The Spirit of St. Louis”. Henry Ford has packed a lot of American History into one building.  It is a celebration of the United States’ progress over the past three centuries.

Photo of Henry Ford Museum courtesy

Next door to the handsome museum is the pioneer village, home to almost 100 buildings.  A train steams along the perimeter of the museum to give riders an overall view of the village.  Inside, visitors stop to examine Ford’s old work shop.  Thomas’ Edison’s birthplace sits nearby.  A beautiful chapel sits in the centre where present-day brides and grooms marry, in front of which is a courtyard where staff dressed in period costumes give old fashioned toys to visiting children to play with.  A one-room schoolhouse similar to one Henry would have attended in his youth also sits in the village.  Stepping into the village is like stepping back in time.  Henry Ford took extra care to travel the continent, search for buildings and items for his village and bring them home to display.  For instance, Thomas Edison’s childhood home was built in Vienna, Ontario and later moved to Dearborn, Michigan by Henry Ford.  No visit is complete without a visit to one of the gift shops where guests can purchase: old fashioned toys, candy, fridge magnets of Kennedy’s limousine or Parks’ bus, and rare books about Henry Ford and the history of automobiles. 

Photo of Firestone Farm courtesy

Take a trip back in time and imagine camping by the fire under the stars with Henry Ford and his fellow inventors, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.  It’s worth the trip to Michigan!

Photo of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, President Warren G. Harding and Harvey Firestone on a camping trip in 1921 courtesy



  1. I love the museum. As a child when we would visit family in Michigan we would always stop by. I have to submit a correction however. The original Spirit of St. Louis is housed at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. What can be seen in Dearborn is the B-156, a replica made shorty after Charles Lindberghs' successful flight.

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