Monday, April 8, 2024

A Listing of Links to the Historic Structures at Greenfield Village: Walls DO Talk

Yes,  why I do,  in fact,  write an awful lot about Greenfield Village,  the open-air museum located in Dearborn,  Michigan.  I mean,  it is considered a place of history,  and I do have that Passion for the Past---a passion for history.  But this is not a typical Passion for the Past blog posting,  as far as my writings go.  It's more of a shortcut to the actual posts I've written...about the houses and buildings and other structures inside the hallowed walls of Greenfield Village  (and even the Henry Ford Museum).  I hope you check out some of what I wrote - perhaps your favorite historical house is listed here.  If not,  keep checking back,  because I plan to continue writing about a few of the other structures in upcoming posts,  thus continuing to update it here.
Just in time for Greenfield Village's Opening Day!

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Historical roots run deep~
Greenfield Village is my local go-to place for history.   "Preservation owes a lot to Henry Ford.  But in the process of making people aware of the value of the past,  he made a number of mistakes.  One that modern experts find most objectionable was his uprooting of buildings from their original sites,  thereby stripping them of their historical context,  all in the name of historical preservation."
(The above came from a Detroit Free Press newspaper article from,  I believe,  the early 1980's).
My favorite portion of this quote:  "...thereby stripping them of their historical context..."
Have you seen where the original context of some of these buildings were?  These so-called  "experts"  actually haven't a clue,  for many - if not most - of these buildings would be long-gone---razed  (such as THIS historic structure was).  The Ackley Covered Bridge,  the Webster House,  the Daggett Farmhouse,  the Eagle Tavern,  and numerous others were so  close to meeting such a razed fate  (read their stories in the links below),  and if it were not for Henry Ford's uprooting of buildings from their original sites,  they and their history lessons would be gone.
And what a shame that would have been.
I think this post is as much for me as it is for fans of Greenfield Village,  for I have written not only about the history of  many of  the structures located there,  but of the history of Greenfield Village itself.  And with this post,  all of the links with the stories are here in one concise spot.
What I also did here was to include photos with each of the links,  many of which I've not posted before.  Hopefully the pictures will entice readers to check out some of  what I have written.
So let us take a journey to the past and read about a number of  the various Greenfield Village homes and structures I researched  (the title of each is the link):

Ackley Covered Bridge 1832
At one time,  covered bridges were commonplace.  Not so much anymore.  But Greenfield Village has one from 1832.  This post tells on how and why it was originally built,  taken apart,  and then shipped to Michigan from Pennsylvania to be restored.
Ackley Covered Bridge

Daggett House  (part one
As many know,  this is my favorite historical home - a bit of colonial New England  (Connecticut)  here in the Midwest.   Learn about this circa 1750 house,  its rooms,  and even a bit on the family who lived there. 
Daggett House

Daggett House  (part two)
This post concentrates more on the everyday life of the 18th century Daggett family,  and how they lived seasonally,  including ledger entries written by Samuel Daggett himself.   The past comes to life,  and I believe the walls in this house do speak to us.  I'm just attempting to write down what they are saying.
Anna greets Samuel as he comes home.

Daggett House  (part three)
This post speaks on Sam Daggett's House's history before it was brought to Greenfield Village,  including photos taken from the location where it originally stood.  Included are interior shots from when it was somewhat modernized in the mid-20th century,  and a few video clips of when and how it was brought to Greenfield Village.
The Daggett House before its first restoration around 1951.

Daggett House  (part four)
The spirit of Samuel Daggett lives on:  this post shows presenter Roy making a Colonial well sweep in the same manner that Samuel Daggett would have done back in his day,  by way of a shave horse and draw knife.  Roy also made new firepit poles in the same manner.
Making new poles for the firepit.

Doc Howard's Office - The World of a 19th century Doctor
It's 1850 and you're sick.  Who are you going to call on?  Why,  good ol'  Doc Howard,  of course!
There are stories to tell here.  Stories not often mentioned in history books.  Plus you get to see where Howard's office originally stood!
Doc Howard's Office

Taverns were the heart and soul and pipeline in the horse and carriage days of early America.  The Eagle Tavern,  built in 1831,  was one of the most well-known stagecoach stops of its time from when it sat on Old US 12 in Clinton,  Michigan,  and,  in fact,  due to it being restored and relocated to Greenfield Village,  the old tavern still is pretty popular to this day.
Here's its story.
Eagle Tavern

Edison:  Tales of Everyday Life in Menlo Park  (or Francis Jehl:  A Young Boy's Experience Working at Menlo Park)
The time when Thomas Edison and his men worked at Menlo Park is brought to life by one who was there. These are first-hand accounts which allows the reader a sort of immersive view of the most famous invention laboratory ever built.
Sarah Jordan's Boarding House - where Edison's boarders would stay.

Follow the train route that Thomas Edison took as he rode and worked on the rails from Port Huron to Detroit in the early 1860s,  and this is including a stop at the Smiths Creek Depot,  restored inside Greenfield Village.
Smiths Creek Depot

The oldest windmill on Cape Cod is no longer on Cape Cod - - it's in Michigan!  Just like the Daggett House,  here is a bit of New England in Michigan,  with lots of interesting things about this wonderful piece of Americana from 1633.  I mean...there is a reason why a windmill is called a  "mill."
The 1633 Farris Cape Cod Windmill

Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village
As you learn about the boyhood home of Harvey Firestone,  the tire magnate,  you will also learn about his life growing up on an 1880s farm.  This is a real working farm where all the chores are done in the same manner as they would have been done in the 1880s,  whether cooking and cleaning inside the house or farm labor in the fields.  This is such a fascinating home inside and out.
A Panoramic view of Firestone Farm

The Four Seasons of Firestone Farm
The same photo taken at the same angle throughout the four season of the year.
See the changes...
Firestone Farm in the wintertime.


The Giddings House
Revolutionary War and possible George Washington ties are within the hallowed walls of this beautiful stately colonial home,  originally from New Hampshire.  Yes!  Another New England colonial structure,  this one being for the upper class,  also resides inside the walls of Greenfield Village.
But there are a few things amiss.
Giddings Home

Recreating this store to its 1880s appearance was extremely important as the overall goal,  and so original pieces from the time and accurately reproduced items were included to accomplish the end result.  This is as close as you'll ever get to an actual period General Store.
Stepping into the past. 
J.R.  Jones General Store

Research has shown that,  as a young attorney,  Abraham Lincoln once practiced law in this walnut clapboard building.  I think this post will make you realize just how close to history you actually are when you step inside and walk upon the same floors as our 16th President.  
Seriously.  
I also include information on the more recent films about Lincoln in this post that will make you realize just how close you will be to the legend when you are near or inside this building.
Yes,  Abraham Lincoln was here.
Logan County Court House

The 1832 building looks as it did nearly 200 years ago when it was built in Monroe County. 
But do you know what a gristmill's job was and of its importance to the local community?
No town was without one,  for the miller kept his nose to the grindstone.
Loranger Gristmill

Built in the late 18th century,  with some modifications from its original style,  this is one of the oldest original American log cabins still in existence.  Though William Holmes McGuffey,  the author of the McGuffey Eclectic Reader,  which was the most popular school book of the 19th century,  was born in this cabin,  I concentrated more on the McGuffey family as a whole rather than only on William.  They were early western Pennsylvania pioneers.
McGuffey Cabin and the smokehouse.

Mills  
This post is a general overview of the variety of mills one could find in those pre-20th century days,  including a couple mentioned earlier.
Mills such as these were once a part of everyday life in American villages and towns and cities - including the Gunsolly Carding Mill,  the Loranger Gristmill,  Farris Windmill,  Hanks Silk Mill,  Cider Mill,  and the Spofford and the Tripps Saw Mills,  quick histories all in one post!
This Gunsolly Carding Mill pictured here is only one of about nine mills in this post.

Noah Webster House
A look at the life of this fascinating but forgotten Founding Father whose home,  which was nearly razed for a parking lot,  is now located in Greenfield Village.  Read on how this historic house,  where Webster completed his first dictionary,  was almost lost forever,  but saved in the nick of time!
Noah Webster House

The Plympton House
And yet,  another New England structure comes to Michigan!  Like the Farris Windmill,  Daggett House,  and Giddings,  Plympton House is from New England,  though this time from Massachusetts.
This house,  with its long history  (including fights with American Indians),  also has close ties to Paul Revere and the first battles of the Revolutionary War - Lexington & Concord!
Plympton House

Richart Carriage Shop
Another important shop of the 19th century that helped to put rural Michigan on wheels - buggy wheels.  This building was much more than a carriage shop,  by the way!  They made and repaired farm tools,  furniture,  and even coffins.  And there is a possible Eagle Tavern connection.
Richart Carriage Shop

Susquehanna Plantation
This house has a strange but interesting history,  one that not only includes slavery,  but of Indian graves and mistaken identity.
Susquehanna Plantation House

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I also wrote various postings on a number of different Greenfield Village subjects that I thought Passion for the Past readers might be interested in.

"...thereby stripping them of their historical context..."  indeed!
Saving Americana - that's  what Henry Ford did - and in doing so he showed everyone the importance of  everyday life history.  This is how it all began.   
Soon both sides of this road would be filled with historic structures.

Preserving History
"I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used…. When we are through,  we shall have reproduced American life as lived,  and that,  I think,  is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition…"
Henry Ford did more for preserving everyday life of the 18th and 19th centuries than nearly anyone else!  And he was one of the first to do so - - - here's his story  (history?)  in a nutshell.
A map from the original Greenfield Village lay out from 1929.
Pretty cool,  eh?  Lots more in this post!

Since nearly every structure inside Greenfield Village has come from another location,  I took on a project to seek out the original locations of many of the more localized buildings and visited where they first were built and walked that hallowed ground.  And a friend visited the out-of -state locations and took loads of photos.
They're all here - - - ~
Edison & Ford and friends inspect the ruins where the original 
laboratory once stood in Menlo Park,  New Jersey.
That's what this post is all about,  Charlie Brown.

And for some haunted fun, 
Ghosts of Greenfield Village
Well,  here you are - stories of real hauntings that are said to have taken place in this historic Village.  Spirits in the night---and day---
I illustrated some of the stories herein with a few fake ghost photos to add a bit of color~
Wait---what???
Is it real...or Memorex?

Yes,  some of the structures that now sit inside Greenfield Village have connections to America's fight for Independence.  I wrote a blog post about them and those who lived inside that played a role in our country's fight for Independence.  Some are minor while others...well...there is some cool American history to be visited right in our own back yard!
Three houses inside Greenfield Village that have Revolutionary War connections.

Nothing is placed randomly inside the structures at Greenfield Village.  The curators carefully consider each and every object before allowing it to become part of the site. 
And the Clothing Studio at The Henry Ford covers over 250 years of fashion  (from 1760 onward)  and is the  premier museum costume shop in the country.
Their dedication to authenticity is greatly admired and appreciated.
There's a story behind this  "lanthorn" - - - 

Pictures used in this post were mostly taken from a few different locations:  inside the building pictured below,  inside the Henry Ford Museum,  and in use on the farms in the village.
My most popular posting ever!  As of this writing nearly 93,000 visitors have come to this page.
This  "Soybean Experimental Lab"  holds a very large collection of historic farm tools from the old days...and tells of their uses by the season.

This posting is about looking at memories from a unique angle.  About having the same or similar thoughts and remembrances as our ancestors.
But how can that be...?
Yup - - read on,  my friends.
My three oldest:  growing up in the past - - - 

Visit pretty much any building inside Greenfield Village and you'll invariably see at least one fireplace.  And then there are the buildings that have them lit.  But do you know the history of the hearth?
You will now - - - 
The beautiful Giddings hearth brightens the sitting room!

This is one of my favorite,  most picturesque fall visits to Greenfield Village.  There are loads of photographs to seemingly transport folks back in time - of course,  there are few places that I would consider better to visit during the autumn time of year than GFV.
Guess which house this was taken in?

This is another favorite of mine.  I suppose it's obvious fall is my favorite time of year,  and this is a sort of time-line time-travel post. 
1930s going all the way back to the 18th century.

Fall is my most favorite time of the year,  and this post has some of my most favorite fall pictures taken at Greenfield Village.  
This could be a scene right out of autumn 1850~ 

A fascinating look at items every 19th century home pretty much had,  but are given little thought today.  Numerous photos from Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum are mixed in here.
Notice the box heating stove in this 1880s Firestone Farm bedroom.

This is a collection of photos taken on those rare occasions that we get a snowfall before January...and happen to be lucky enough to visit Greenfield Village when it happens.  Or sometimes I snap a few pretty good shots from over the wall during January,  February,  or March,  while the Village is totally closed up.
There are over 50 snow photos in this post.
Winter travelers searching for the past.

There are cars - ranging from the 1930s through the 1970s.  But Motor Muster is so much more.  It is an immersive experience,  with all of the scenarios and the lay out.  I've done numerous posts on Motor Muster,  but this is my best one.  Motor Muster includes a hot rod pass and review.
Just tuned my car,  now she really peels
And lookin'  real tough with chrome reverse wheels
A blue coral wax job sure looks pretty
Gonna get my chick and make it out to Drag City~

Like Motor Muster,  Old Car Festival,  which only includes vehicles from 1932 and before,  is an immersive experience,  with all of the scenarios and the lay out.  I've done numerous posts on Old Car Festival - the oldest in the U.S - but this I consider to be my best one.  I enjoy that they've incorporated the Rag Time Street Fair as well as a night time headlight tour.  I mean,  how often do you get to see these hundred year old cars riding around at night with their ancient headlights on?
Come with me Lucille...
Old Car Festival

Salute to America is what Greenfield Village calls their Patriotic event,  which usually takes place for about a week before leading up to Independence Day/4th of July.  Music,  which includes old blues,  brass band,  traditional,  and classical,  and patriotic scenarios abound for this ticketed event,  and climaxes with a wonderful fireworks display accompanied by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
In this post I include other 4th of July festivities that I take part in.
Salute to America - - 1776 lives!

Again,  I go annually and I have a number of blog posts about my visits.  Let's see...yes,  it can be a bit scary,  as it's supposed to be,  but not overly scary,  for it is family friendly.  I'm glad it's not just for kids anymore.  This is very well done.
Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village~
It's creepy and it's kooky
Historical and spooky

Merry Christmas:  300 years of Christmas celebrations as only Greenfield Village can show.
It is impossible for me to choose which is my favorite Holiday Nights post,  for I've been going to this event when it was still called  "The 12 Nights of Christmas,"  so I just grabbed one that seems to cover the entire gamut.
Journey through Christmas Past...


And,  from The Henry Ford Museum,  we have:
I wrote history in a sort of unique manner:
This post is part history and part family history:  a blending of the two.  And one way to show how you can place your ancestors in their time.
Stories of the past told in a unique way~

Family Heirlooms and the Hannah Barnard Court Cupboard
There is something about this particular court cupboard the draws me to it each and every time I visit the Henry Ford Museum.  It's story is wonderful though heartbreaking in a sense as well.
Plus I added a bit on how our own pieces of furniture that have been in our family for a long while can be,  in a sort of special way,  museum pieces.  If not now,  then perhaps in the future.
The Hannah Barnard Court Cupboard from the very early 1700s
has a story to tell.

This is the actual chair that our 16th president,  Abraham Lincoln,  was sitting in when his assassin,  John Wilkes Booth,  snuck up from behind and shot  "the Great Emancipator"  in the back of the head while he was enjoying a play at Ford's Theater in Washington City in April of 1865.
But how did this,  one of the most iconic pieces of furniture in history,  come to be a permanent exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum?
Here's how.
There is a history to be told - American history.
In fact,  there is an entire exhibit on the fight for Freedom,  including African Americans and women.  But there is a section dedicated to America's fight for Independence.  It's this section that I enjoy most each and every visit to the museum. 
Many of the items here were part of the Bicentennial display they had back in 1976!
Visiting the display on George Washington.

Here is a sort of  "part two"  of the above post called Declaring Independence: The Spirits of '76
"Something special happened over two centuries ago.  But is that story being told and promoted?  And to do that,  you also have to be willing to promote what makes America special.  That's not very PC these days,  but maybe it's time to start celebrating America again,  especially in the run up to the 250th in 2026."
A writing desk attributed to Thomas Jefferson~

Nearly 80 photos of some of the awesome collections and exhibits inside the only real competition that the Smithsonian has.  For those who have not been here before - or for those who have not been here for quite a while - I think the pictures herein might just entice you to visit.  
A scene straight outta 1940!
Plus a whole lot more - - - - 

My personal experiences while visiting Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum while wearing my 18th century clothing - and the reactions I get.
A museum replication of the inside of Independence Hall~

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Anyone who knows me knows my infatuation for the Daggett Home.  There has never been a draw quite like this.  In fact,  I have been  "Daggett-izing"  a portion of my own home...that is,  mimicking the Daggett style so my own home will have the look and feel of this,  my favorite 18th century home.
Am I a bit off center?
Some may think so.
But,  naw...it's just me enjoying life - - -
Which one is the original Daggett and which is my own copy?

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Greenfield Village shuts its gates from the end of December through mid-April,  so for so many of us who frequent the Village often during open-season,  we are left gazing at photos our friends post and reading about the histories of the Village to pass the cold and bland winter days while a-waiting for its re-opening.  Or perhaps,  we can visit the Henry Ford Museum to get our history fix.  
You see,  if you say  "Opening Day"  around these parts of  southeastern lower Michigan,  most everyone thinks of the Detroit Tigers home opener of the baseball season.  But there are a great many of us who think a bit differently;  thousands of us think of Greenfield Village instead.
I am often asked why I frequent the Village so often.  "Don't you get bored looking at the same thing over and over?"  some inquire.
Not.  One.  Iota.  For I  (and so many others)  have a much deeper love of  history,  and always seem to find or learn something new while visiting.  
And there are many small,  sort of  cookies  to be found at the Village.  For instance,  I had heard about a couple of tombstones behind the Cotswold Cottage.  Not tombstones for humans,  but for dogs.  So I went to see for myself.  I found them both,  but this one in particular caught my eye:
Rover's grave marker can still be seen today behind the cottage.
Then I learned how  "Henry Ford purchased a black Newfoundland puppy in 1930.  The dog,  named Rover,  would help guard sheep at Greenfield Village's Cotswold Cottage.  (Ford envisioned the interpretation of the cottage as the home of an English sheepherder.)  The dog became a fixture in the Village. 
Rover was indeed  “a very good and faithful pal”  whose spirit will live on forever as part of Greenfield Village."  
(From the website of  The Henry Ford)
There once was a tombstone for a human behind the Susquehanna Plantation House - you'll have to read the post to learn of that!

Throughout the open season of spring,  summer,  and fall,  there are many reasons for multiple visits,  whether visitors are watching seasonal farm chores,  enjoying the many gardens and learning about the plants,  eating inside a historical tavern,  delving into the famous custard,  watching historic cooking,  going to the special event days such as Motor Muster,  Salute to America,  Old Car Festival,  Holiday Nights,  Hallowe'en,  or just wanting to be surrounded by American history.  No,  Greenfield Village is definitely not a one-shot deal.  There's so much going on throughout,  and so much to learn,  that it is no wonder why I and others visit as often as we do.
I so very much look forward to the Village's re-opening come mid-April;  now that I am retired,  I can't wait to step through those gates and huff it around - exercise and  history. 
Love him or hate him  (and there are plenty who feel both emotions out there),  Henry Ford has done such a service to history - American history - and I deeply appreciate it,  for his accomplishments in this have fed my historical thirst like little else.
Close enough to perfect for me.

Until next time,  see you in time. 

All of the information for each GFV structure came from the various guidebooks,  from deeper research at the Benson Ford Research Center,  from various historical societies where the structures originally stood,  and/or from the historic presenters who interpret the histories of the buildings.


To read about the structures I've located from before Michigan became a state,  please click HERE






























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