Greenfield Village is the historical open-air museum of the Henry Ford complex, which opened to the public in 1933. A collection of nearly a hundred historic buildings spread over 80 acres.
It was the first open-air museum of its kind in the country.
Ford founded and moved buildings here from all parts of the United States. One of the most important is Thomas A. Edison's laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
The museum's purpose is to show how people have lived and worked since the country was founded. The village has buildings from the 17th century to the present day. Many of these are told about the past by costumed guides. A real journey through time.
You can also explore the open-air museum area by horse-drawn carriage, with authentic Ford Model T cars, and by jumping on a real steam locomotive. You can also visit four working farms. In our opinion, the typical American way of thinking "you can do it" applies here very well: everything is possible if you want it!
You can see the homes and lives of ordinary people that changed America.
We will tell you about the most important ones and those we visited.
First up is Ford's own house. But first, a few words about Henry Ford.
Henry Ford was born in a small farmhouse on July 30, 1863, in a small community nearby Springwells Township (which no longer exists). He moved the house here in 1944 and personally made sure it was furnished precisely as it was in his memory.
Ford is an American businessman, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, one of the pioneers of the automobile industry and modern mass production. The company that bears his name is still run by his descendants today.
He was also a distinguished inventor with 161 US patents to his name. As the owner of the Ford Company, he was one of the wealthiest people in the world. He revolutionized not only automobile production but also transportation and the industry in the United States.
Next, we visited the Ford Motor Company, Ford's third automobile company, founded in 1903. This building is about a quarter the size of the original Detroit plant. The 15 millionth Model T can also be seen here!
From there, we went to the Wright brothers' house. Their bike shop is also in the immediate vicinity. From 1897 to 1908, they ran their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, in this building. Here bicycles were sold, repaired, and the first airplanes were built.
After that, the other important station can be linked to Edison's name.
Thomas Alva Edison is an American inventor who is considered by some to be one of the greatest inventors of all time. His inventions (e.g., the light bulb, phonograph, microphone) significantly impacted the way of life in industrial society. He registered 1,093 patents in the USA alone and 2,332 worldwide. He also created the first industrial research laboratory.
I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident. They came by work.
– Thomas Edison
He initially worked as a telegraph operator, inspiring his first inventions. With his income, he founded his famous laboratory in Menlo Park.
The Fort Myers laboratory and its multi-building laboratory in Menlo Park can also be seen here in the village. Impressive work!
The original Ackley Covered Bridge was built in 1832 by Joshua Ackley and Daniel Clouse in southwestern Pennsylvania. Henry Ford acquired it in 1937 when it was about to be demolished.
It would have been a shame for him.
I had only seen such a covered bridge in the movie "The Bridges of Madison County", so this was our first encounter with a covered bridge in reality.
We crossed the bridge, where we then arrived at a train station. Here a friendly local volunteer came to talk to us a bit. He also said we are in the best place to take a good photo when the train arrives.
We had to wait 10 minutes for the train to arrive! We really were in the best place! 😄
This train was bought by Henry Ford in 1932.
The Cape Cod Windmill (aka Farris Mill) is one of the oldest in America. It was originally built in 1633 on the north side of Cape Cod.
Cotswold Cottage comes from the Cotswold Hills of South West England. Members of the Ford family were drawn to the characteristics of the buildings in the Cotswolds: tawny stone, brickwork around windows and doors.
Baseball was played in original clothing from 1867 on the massive lawn behind the house.
Mrs. Fischer's Southern Cooking is a restaurant that is now closed anyway. But other than that, every dish here reflects Abby Fischer's life. A former slave, she was one of the first African American women to write a cookbook of recipes that still bring to life the flavors and ingredients of the mid-1800s South.
There were many other things to see, but we had to turn back because we were really running out of time. There was more to see, but we still had almost 4 hours of driving ahead of us.
So we made our way back but stopped at the carousel.
The Herschell-Spillman carousel is a typical, old-fashioned carousel. This colorful carousel was at the peak of its popularity in the early 20th century. It could be found all over America: in amusement parks, city parks, and even beach resorts. We've seen a carousel like this in Carowinds; we've tried it! Menagerie carousel was built in 1913 with hand-carved animals. There are storks, goats, zebras, and even a frog. It operated from 1923 to 1961 in Spokane, Washington.
Next to it is a lovely little building, the Sir John Bennett Sweet Shop.
Sir John Bennett's watch and jewelry business were initially based in London. Ford was also a fan of clocks and was particularly interested in the characters of Gog and Magog chiming the clock. So in 1928, he bought the building for the village.
I actually like the characters best! 😄
We walked back to the parking lot through the almost empty museum building and drove to the next station.
But we're still staying in Dearborn!