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Updated 11:30 AM December 6, 2004




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  National Historic Landmark
Henry Ford Estate's rich history comes alive through signage

The Henry Ford Estate, a National Historic Landmark on the campus of U-M-Dearborn, will update existing signs and add new ones to illustrate and describe the history of the estate's gardens and grounds.

"Our National Historic Landmark status is connected in part to the significance of the landscape that was developed by the pioneering designer Jens Jensen," says Karen Marzonie, landscape architect at the estate. In addition, the estate's grounds reveal a great deal about the personality and interests of Henry Ford, Marzonie says.

The planned signs will describe the natural and designed features of the estate's grounds, as well as the cultural history associated with the site, which was home to the automotive pioneer and his wife, Clara, for more than 30 years.

For example, one of the interpretive signs will mark a weeping beech tree still standing near the front door of the estate that is thought to have been a gift to the Fords on their 50th wedding anniversary from their son Edsel and his wife Eleanor.

Another sign will describe the estate's hydroelectric system that captured energy from the Rouge River.

In addition, interpretive signs will be installed near the site of the vegetable garden surrounding a large bur oak tree dating to the 17th century, his wife's rose garden, and the location of a tree house built into an oak where the auto baron would take grandchildren and visitors to the estate.

"Basically, we're describing the exterior history of the estate and the people who shaped its foundation," Marzonie says.

The estate, which received a $3,500 grant from MotorCities Automobile National Heritage Area to support the project, is soliciting public comments about the planned signs and other interpretive activities. For more information, contact Marzonie at (313) 593-5580.

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