Today at Ford House
Edsel and Eleanor's Legacy
Both Edsel and Eleanor Ford were lifelong philanthropists. They generously supported organizations that reflected their own passion for art, design, nature, and family life.
During the Depression, they started a soup kitchen and Edsel gave the initial endowment to start the Ford Foundation.
Edsel and Eleanor’s donations made a difference around the country, but especially in Detroit. They supported the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Artists Market, and Henry Ford Hospital. Eleanor also made a point of supporting local schools and social services that focused primarily on women and children. The Fords gave millions – but often quietly, or anonymously. Their charitable impact was huge during their lifetime. And their children grew up to carry on those values, too.
Eleanor willed that, after her death, many of the paintings in the house to be donated to the DIA. When you visit today, some paintings are still originals, and some have incredible reproductions hanging in their place.
And of course, Ford House is a part of the Fords’ legacy. Eleanor generously requested the estate be used for the good of the community. She hoped it might remain as a witness to the past, as part of the history of the area, and as an enrichment in the lives of future generations. We have been welcoming the public inside the gates ever since. Our staff works tirelessly every day to preserve and protect the estate and to tell the story of Ford House, a story that still continues today.
"She wished to use the influence granted her to accomplish good among people who needed help and inspiration. Her good works will live beyond our memories of her kindness and magnanimity." —Frederick Cummings, former Detroit Institute of Arts Director
Learn about Edsel Ford and his contributions to automotive design in our new exhibition, Driven by Design, in our Visitor Center.