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Ryan Silva
Director of Facilities and Operations
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Fair Lane was the beloved home of Clara and Henry Ford from 1915 until their deaths in 1950 and 1947, respectively. The 56-room mansion and five-story powerhouse served as their sanctuary and as their laboratory. Built on 1,300 acres of farmland, just miles from Clara and Henry’s birthplaces, most of the estate’s original structures stand today.

The estate included the main residence, the powerhouse that supplied energy to the estate, the greenhouse for Clara’s extensive gardens, the boathouse, and the stables. The cornerstone for the powerhouse was laid by Thomas Alva Edison, and the energy created by Fair Lane’s hydropower not only powered the estate but a part of the town of Dearborn as well. The Powerhouse included the estate’s garage and a laboratory where Henry worked on engine designs on the upper level.

One of the first historic sites to be designated a National Historic Landmark, the architectural style is an eclectic mix of English castle and prairie style, mixing European grandeur and Midwestern charm. Esteemed landscape architect Jens Jensen designed the grounds and gardens. The result was Clara and Henry’s ideal vision of a home.

Several features from their previous residences were incorporated into the design of Fair Lane. Since childhood, Clara and Henry had a deep appreciation for preserving and protecting the natural environment, an appreciation evident on the grounds of Fair Lane. These elements influenced the design of their estate as it took on the role of refuge, a creative incubator, and a rural oasis from the surrounding urban landscape.

Henry, Clara, and their son, Edsel, moved into Fair Lane in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1915. With their fame and success soaring, they continued to impact the world through their actions and ingenuity. However, Fair Lane became much more than a simple domestic haven. It was a private laboratory space for Henry’s tinkering and discoveries, a canvas for Clara’s love of gardens, a retreat to discuss ideas with friends like Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burrows, a hall for favorite pastimes like music and dance, and a place to gather the grandchildren to share their passions and dreams.