Meadow Brook Hall & Gardens
2200 N. Squirrel Road
Rochester, MI 48309
If you’ve ever wondered how “the other half” lives, then a tour of Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, MI is definitely a must-see. Affectionately called “America’s Castle” by some, this architectural masterpiece was built for Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of the auto pioneer John Dodge, and is the fourth largest historic house museum in the nation. Many of the mansion’s 110 rooms are open to the public along with the beautiful gardens and charming playhouse (Knole Cottage). Meadow Brook Hall offers tours as well as many special activities like dinner and a movie in the ballroom, pajama parties for the kids, and, of course, the traditional Holiday Tour where the entire home is decked out for the holidays by local designers. Meadow Brook Hall is located on the campus of Oakland University. Check the website for tour times and information.
Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
1100 Lake Shore Road
Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236
In 1929 Edsel and Eleanor Ford brought in the renowned architect Albert Kahn to design an elegant yet comfortable family home on 87 acres overlooking Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe, MI. The estate has been open to the public since 1978, allowing hundreds of thousands of visitors the opportunity to marvel at the architecture, antiques and art or stroll the beautiful lakefront ground. Visitors can take an iPod App Tour or enjoy one of the unique “behind the scenes” tours like a look at life for the Ford Estate staff. Don’t miss the swimming pool designed to look like a tiny lake between a stand of birch trees or the 2/3 scale Tudor playhouse built in 1930 for seven-year-old Josephine. To visit the Ford House, check the website for tour times and event information.
39221 Woodward Ave.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
If you’re a fan of Art Deco, don’t miss an opportunity to tour the Saarinen House on the grounds of Cranbrook Academy of Art. Saarinen House was the home and studio of the Finnish-American designer Eliel Saarinen and his wife, Loja Saarinen. He was Cranbrook’s first resident architect, the Academy’s first president, and the head of the Architecture Department. She was the Academy’s first head of the Weaving Department. This beautifully restored home includes Eliel’s delicately-veneered furniture, Loja’s sumptuous textiles, as well as early furniture designs by their son Eero Saarinen, and doors designed by their daughter, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson. Public tours include take place from May through October and include additional sites on the Cranbrook campus. Visit the website for further information.
Henry Ford Estate (Fair Lane Mansion)
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
In 1914 Henry and Clara Ford began construction on a beautiful home hidden on 1300 acres of Dearborn, MI farmland. The 31,000 square foot, 56 room residence was not the largest or most opulent estate built at that time, but it still took between 500 and 800 craftsmen working full-time approximately two years to complete this project. The estate is closing December 17, 2010 as the University of Michigan transfers ownership of this National Historic Landmark to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. The Fair Lane Mansion will be restored and reopened in stages over the next seven years.
57500 Van Dyke
Washington, MI 48094
The Octagon House is one of America’s unique contributions to the field of architecture and there’s a beautiful example of this style of home just north of Detroit in Washington, MI. The Loren Andrus Octagon House was completed in 1860. It has eight sides, eight foot-windows letting in lots of sunlight, and features a beautiful 55-step circular staircase in the center of the home that winds its way up to the third floor cupola. All the rooms fan out on either side of the staircase. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan List of Historic Places. Tours are available on the 4th Sunday of every month. See the website for tour and special event information.
Kris Kelly is the Community Affairs Manager for WWJ-TV and CW50. In her free time … if there is any … she enjoys finding fun and interesting things to do in the Metro Detroit area. Got any great suggestions for future “Best of …” stories? Send her an e-mail.