Ford House recognizes the indigenous people who once made this land home.

People have lived in what is now the Detroit area for thousands of years. The land at Gaukler Point is situated on the shore of Lake St. Clair near the mouth of the Milk River, making it a perfect spot to settle. Evidence of Paleo-Indian and mound-builder activity dates as far back as 9,000 B.C.

By the 1600s, the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) inhabited areas near Detroit. French explorers soon showed up, finding the region charming. In 1679, Father Louis Hennepin, a Catholic priest and missionary, described it as “very well situated and the soil very fertile.”

French settlers divided the land along the Milk River into ribbon farms – so named because the long, narrow plots extended from rivers and lakes. Simple frame houses and small farms dotted the landscape. By the mid-18oos, Gaukler Pointe and the surrounding area were known for apple., cherry, and pear orchards.

The country setting drew the attention of wealthy Detroiters, whose estates and summer cottages intermingled with the farms. Clara and Henry Ford purchased the land at Gaukler Pointe in 1911, intending to settle there themselves. But by 1913, they had decided to build their new home in Dearborn instead. Edsel bought the land from his parents in 1925.

Learn more about the estate and family.

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