Sleeping in homes of great Americans
By Kath Usitalo For Sun-Times Media
If you go ...
For those planning on checking out the Dearborn Inn or The Henry Ford, contact information is below:
20301 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 271-1620 (recorded info)
Travel by air became much more accommodating in 1931 when automobile industrialist Henry Ford opened the world’s first airport hotel across the road from his air field in suburban Detroit.
Ford Airport was transformed long ago into Ford Motor Company product proving grounds, but The Dearborn Inn, a gracious Georgian-style hotel, still welcomes guests to its 223 rooms and suites.
The inn was designed (with considerable input from Ford) by prolific Detroit architect Albert Kahn, whose major works for the automaker included the Ford Highland Park and River Rouge plants. But Ford, a history buff, didn’t need Kahn for the unusual lodging he planned for the landscaped grounds behind the main inn.
The Colonial Village at the inn consists of replicas of the homes of five famous Americans whom Ford admired. Constructed in 1937 of the same building materials as the originals, they were the first of 17 homes Ford envisioned for the Village. However, World War II intervened and the project was halted.
Although the exteriors have the appearance of single-family homes, the interiors of four of them have been configured to accommodate multiple guests in private rooms; the Poe house is rented as a single unit.
Ford’s American idols and their replicas homes:
Oliver Wolcott, Revolutionary War General and signer of the Declaration of Independence; George Washington slept at his Litchfield, Connecticut home
Barbara Fritchie, American patriot; the Maryland cottage where she famously hung the Union flag
Patrick Henry, known for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech; his home in Red Hill, Virginia, circa 1794
Walt Whitman, poet; his birthplace, a farmhouse on Long Island
Edgar Allan Poe, author; New York City home where he wrote Annabel Lee and other poems and stories.
Decorated in a Colonial style, the homes have not yet benefited from the refurbishing recently completed in the main inn. The houses are popular with families, groups and history buffs. A Bed & Breakfast package is available.
All guests can enjoy The Dearborn Inn’s seasonal outdoor pool, restaurant and lounge, and relaxing in the elegant lobby with its original black and white Italian marble floor.
Rates in the Colonial Village vary depending on the home and availability but generally start at $249 per night; the Poe house is $450 per night. Rates for a room in the Inn begin at $199, but specials are available.
The Henry Ford (The museum, not the man)
Henry Ford collected Americana and examples of American ingenuity and historical importance, from furnishings to farm equipment and farmhouses. He assembled it all in the indoor Henry Ford Museum and outdoor Greenfield Village, just a half mile from The Dearborn Inn.
Now called The Henry Ford, the complex was dedicated in 1929 as The Edison Institute in honor of Ford’s inventor friend, whose Menlo Park Laboratory he had relocated to the Dearborn site. The Greenfield Village neighborhood includes the Wright Brothers’ cycle shop and home, a plantation house, industrial buildings, a railroad roundhouse and stagecoach stop that serves 19th century dining experiences (in a good way). Special events in the Village range from the Memorial Weekend Civil War Remembrance to car shows, Ragtime Street Fair (July 14-15) and World Tournament of Historic Baseball (August 11-12).
The Henry Ford Museum recently unveiled its Driving America exhibit, which explores the evolution of the automobile and its cultural side effects. Other permanent displays include the only remaining Dymaxion House created by Buckminster Fuller, presidential limos, and the exhibit “Liberty & Justice for All” (be sure to take a seat — any seat — in the civil rights icon, the Rosa Parks Bus).
Now through Sept. 30 the Museum is hosting Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. Pose for a photo on a replica of the grand staircase of the fated ship and see items retrieved from the ocean floor. Tickets for the exhibit are timed.
Village Admission: $24; $22 ages 62+; $17.50 ages 5-12
Museum Admission: $17; $15 ages 62+; $12.50 ages 5-12
Titanic exhibit: Museum admission plus $10
Also of interest at The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre, two films at additional fees:
TITANICA and James Cameron’s Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience
The Dearborn Inn package with admission tickets to The Henry Ford begin at $189 (extra fee for Titanic tickets).
Detroit Metro Visitor Info: www.visitdetroit.com
Travel Michigan: www.michigan.org