Henry and Clara Ford 'return home'
Dearborn — A sculpture of Henry Ford and Clara was unveiled Wednesday amid the beloved rose garden that Clara tended at their Fair Lane estate in Dearborn.
Fair Lane's board of trustees and members of the Ford family celebrated the unveiling of the life-size bronze sculpture, more than 100 years after the auto company founder and his wife moved in. It was created by world-renowned Brooklyn-based StudioEIS.
The sculpture was a gift to the estate from Lynn Ford Alandt, great-granddaughter of Clara and Henry, and her husband Paul Alandt. The statue features Henry Ford, at 5 feet 10 inches tall with a top hat in his right hand and his left hand on Clara, who sits in her garden hat gazing at her roses. The statue sits in the corner of the rose garden near the tea house, facing the home.
"We selected this location because to us, it’s the most symbolic on the estate," Paul Alandt said. "Behind Henry, you will see the powerhouse, the place where much of his creativity and innovative ideas began. In front of Clara, you will see her beloved gardens, and they both are looking toward the home that meant so much to them."
Ivan Schwartz, StudioEIS founder and director, said the studio worked with the Ford family for 18 months to create the statue.
"There were probably about 25 people who worked on this from sculptors to designers, costumers, specialists in bronze casting and molding," Schwartz said. "It is a kind of dedication that one doesn’t find very often these days."
The process included research into hundreds of historical photos. Schwartz said Clara Ford was difficult to design because there weren't many photos of her.
The Fords moved to Dearborn in 1915 after the success of the Model T, the assembly line and Ford's $5 workday policy. Fair Lane was their home for more than 30 years and was used as a private laboratory for Henry's tinkering and canvas for Clara's love of gardens, according to Fair Lane history.
The Fair Lane estate has been closed for restoration for more than two years. The sculpture is the latest addition to the rose garden and sits alongside a fountain that was newly restored.
Edsel B. Ford II said it could be more than two years before it reopens to the public.
"The statues are just perfect and it looks a quite bit like them, but there's so much to do inside and out," Ford said. "There's even some work to think about in the powerhouse: what do we do about Henry's laboratory and so many exciting things ahead."
Kathy Adamski of Dearborn Heights has been a volunteer gardener at the estate for 13 years. She said she was surprised by an invitation to the garden party.
"I had no idea, and it was a good surprise because (sculpted pair are) pretty cool and really tie the garden together," said Adamski, 68. "Us gardeners love this place and want it maintained."