Help Restore Clara and Henry Ford's Garden!

Clara and Henry Ford's Early Rose Garden is one of the most enchanting spaces on the estate and a favorite stop for visitors! Beyond its wrought-iron gate, the garden is a gentle-yet-vibrant mix of flowers in Clara’s favorite color palette – blues, pinks and creams.

Now, we are working to preserve two important, iconic features of the garden: the Tea House and the Lily Pond. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, turn your thoughts to the beauty of our natural environment and make a donation on Giving Tuesday to restore Clara Ford’s gardens! Every time you come to visit, you will feel the pleasure of knowing that you played an important role in restoring this extraordinary place! You can make your tax-deductible donation here.


While the house is closed for restoration, the grounds are open for visitors. Come to the Estate to stroll the gardens, explore the special features, and absorb the beauty of Fair Lane – no matter what the season!

The Lily Pond

The charming Lily Pond is a beloved feature of the garden. It was added in the 1930s, and in 1968, well after the Fords’ time at Fair Lane, the Marshall Frederick sculpture of a ram was placed in the center. Weather and wear-and-tear have taken a toll on the charming water feature, and now we must completely repair the interior and exterior of the pond.


The Tea House

The Tea House, with its copper roof, scalloped edge detail, curved wood beams, wrought iron, and flagstone and brick flooring was a favorite place of Mrs. Ford to enjoy afternoon tea, according to oral history. The Tea House roof was most likely painted black in the 1950s. Recently, our staff and volunteers have been cleaning and re-coating the Tea House roof with a paint color matching slightly aged copper. Our goal, however, is to completely restore the copper roof to its original luster.

You Can Help!

To date we have raised more than $30,000 toward these projects, but we need your help! We are $10,000 short of our goal and your tax-deductible donation on Giving Tuesday, November 29, will help to bring these iconic features in Clara Ford’s gardens back to their original shine!


If you have questions about #GivingTuesday and the Early Rose Garden project, contact Brent Glass at or (313) 884-4222 ext. 144.

About the Early Rose Garden

The Early Rose Garden next to Clara and Henry Ford’s residence is a restored interpretation of the first rose garden at Fair Lane which contained over 300 rose plants. Jens Jensen, the renowned Danish-born Chicago area Landscape Architect, designed the first rose garden in 1916. In the late 1920’s, Mrs. Ford decided to build a much larger rose garden with over 10,000 rose plants within a 2.5-acre meadow area that partly parallels the Great Meadow. The roses from the Early Rose Garden are thought to have been relocated to that second rose garden designed in 1926 by Boston, Massachusetts Landscape Architect, Herbert Kellaway and Marblehead, Mass. Rosarian, Harriet Foote.

In 1930, Mrs. Ford hired Ellen Biddle Shipman, a Landscape Architect from New Hampshire, to transform the former Early Rose Garden into an English garden with mixed annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs and trees. The Tea House, stone walls, heavy wood garden door, slate paths, modified raised terrace next to the residence, and lily pond in the center of the garden date to that era. The magnificent wrought iron gate on the north side of the garden is said to have been brought to the Estate from Europe and installed in the late 1920s.