New iPhone App For Edsel & Eleanor Ford House

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A new iPhone and iPad application featuring an interactive tour has been launched by the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.

The app is now available free on iTunes and as a Web app for most smartphones. Pre-loaded iPod Touch units are also provided on-site to Ford House guests.

The app features 60 minutes of original content, an original soundtrack, and never-before-seen archival footage of the Ford family at play. The tour uses home movies, photos, an interactive map of the Ford House estate, site-specific interviews and much more. Guests literally enter the Ford story with just a few simple touches on their smartphone screen, becoming the leader in their own journey through the estate.

Much of the footage was shot by Edsel Ford himself.

“Edsel Ford was an avid photographer, and he was also an avid videographer — he shot a lot of movie film,” said Ford House director of education Christopher R. Shires. “It was sitting in our basement.”

Now it’s being used.

The app also includes oral history content from Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s daughter Josephine, as well as Edsel Ford’s personal doctor and people who worked at the estate while the Fords lived there.

Shires said he was project manager for the app, which was produced by Boston-based Audissey Media. Shires said he first met Audissey officials at a museum conference last year, where they won several awards for a Web app for a walking tour of Washington, D.C. like the one they did for the Ford House.

Added Ford House president Kathleen Mullins: “It’s unlike any museum tour I’ve seen. It literally allows visitors to enter the story by providing access to personal movies of the family when they weren’t in the public eye, relaxed and enjoying being a family. It’s very personal and sometimes deeply emotional. Visitors will be able to connect with this iconic family in a whole new way.”

For example, guests walking near the family swimming pool will touch the screen to begina video of Eleanor and the children playing by the pool, standing on the spot where it actually happened. Or they will be able to watch touching footage of Edsel and Eleanor ice skating before Edsel’s death from stomach cancer in 1943 at the all-too-young age of 49.

The app offers several options to users: take a guided tour, explore on your own, meet the Ford family, meet landscape architect Jens Jensen, and browse a comprehensive photo gallery.

For a preview of the iPhone tour, visit www.fordhouse.org.

The Ford House was built in 1929. It is a mammoth 30,000 square feet in size, but thanks to architecture by Detroit legend Albert Kahn, it doesn’t look all that imposing — instead, it seems to grow naturally out of the very earth along Lake St. Clair, like a cluster of modest cottages in the English Cotswold style beloved of Edsel and Eleanor Ford. It has been open to the public since 1978, two years after the death of Eleanor Ford.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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