Have you made any fall travel plans? This month we continue our series of identifying a few of the major festivals being held in the coming month and then explore some of the unique Michigan architectural buildings and historical areas near each specific festival, that reinforce MAF’s mission of “Advancing awareness of how architecture enriches life.” If you are planning a fall trip around Michigan, please consider some of the following festival and tour options to learn more about Michigan Architecture:
Old Car Festival in Greenfield Village, September 9-10, Dearborn: Old Car Festival – Greenfield Village Events – The Henry Ford
Hundreds of vehicles from the 1890s through 1932 arrive from across the country to be perfectly set in the place where American history comes alive. Old Car Festival in Greenfield Village is a raucous ride, epitomizing the earnest optimism of the American Dream from the turn of the century to the Great Depression. America’s longest-running antique car show brings ragtime America and the Jazz Age to life with two days of historically inspired street food, music, dancing, and activities. Stay late Saturday evening for the Gaslight Parade of Cars, dancing with the River Raisin Ragtime Revue and a Dixieland-style parade.
Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village, October 5-29, Dearborn: Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village | October 2023 Event (thehenryford.org)
What is the most enchanting, nostalgic, and fantastical Halloween adventure? It is The Henry Ford’s Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village, Michigan’s premier outdoor October celebration. From harvest markets and fall themes to costumed storybook characters and ghostly performances, the Hallowe’en tradition is one of a kind, showcased within the bewitching setting of Greenfield Village after hours.
A must-see addition to your evening, the Hallowe’en Express will return to its haunted tracks, taking riders along a ghoulish and surprising journey through Greenfield Village. This is a magical Hallowe’en experience for members, friends, and fans.
The Henry Ford: Dearborn
Dedicated in 1929, the museum now known as The Henry Ford, was designed to house Henry Ford’s immense collection of Americana. Designed by Robert O. Derrick, the museum contains over 523,0000 square feet of exhibit space and incorporates faithful reproductions of Independence Hall in Philadelphia as well as the neighboring Congress Hall and Old Philadelphia Hall. If you visit, do not miss Buckminster Fuller’s prototype for the Dymaxion house, which was intended to be a factory manufactured kit that was to be assembled on site.
Greenfield Village: Dearborn
Experience firsthand the sights, sounds and sensations of America’s fascinating formation, where over 80 acres brim with resourcefulness and ingenuity. Here, 300 years of American perseverance serve as a living reminder that anything is possible. Step foot in the lab where Thomas Edison had his lightbulb moment or the workshop where the Wright brothers taught us to reach for the sky. Take a ride in a real Model T, or a walk through four working farms. Rub shoulders with world-class artisans and explore the place where America’s can-do spirit inspires you to go out and get it done.
River Rouge Ford Plant: Dearborn
The Rouge became Henry Ford’s ultimate expression of unified and efficient production. Beginning in 1917, the plant ultimately grew to a 2,000-acre facility and employed more than 100,000 workers at its peak capacity in the 1930s. Ford hired Albert Kahn to design the beginnings of the complex and Kahn did not disappoint his client. Kahn’s Rouge glass plant was regarded at the time as an exemplary and humane factory building, with ample natural light provided through clearstory windows marked a new style in industrial design. Through Edsel Ford’s support, Mexican artist Diego Rivera was invited to study the facilities at the Rouge. These studies informed his set of murals known as “Detroit Industry”.
Fair Lane (Henry Ford Estate): Dearborn
The estate of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and his wife, Clara Ford. The 31,000 square foot home was built on a 1,300-acre estate along the Rouge River. Ford hired Marion Mahony Griffin, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright with the firm Von Hoist & Fyfe, to design a Prairie style house. After a trip to Europe, where the Fords saw and appreciated English manor homes, they changed their plans and hired William Van Tine to revise their plans to the unique style that was ultimately built.
North American International Auto Show, September 13-24, Detroit: North American International Detroit Auto Show (naias.com)
Experience the world-famous Detroit Auto Show with your friends and family. Over 20+ attractions, events, and shows all about vehicles and the ever-growing technology behind them. This year the Detroit Auto Show will include a new indoor EV Experience that affords visitors the chance to immerse themselves in a wide range of electric vehicles. Sitting alongside a professional driver, show-goers will traverse through a serpentine track that includes an acceleration lane stretching more than 300 feet.
Anyone who doubts that urban vitality lies in preserving older, human-scale buildings need only visit Greektown to be convinced. This collection of humble Victorian-era commercial structures, built in the mid-to-late 1800s has evolved over time into one of Detroit’s liveliest tourist destinations. The creation of Greektown Casino in the late 1900s added a new presence—the latest chapter in a neighborhood that began as a pioneer farm, morphed into a German and then a Greek enclave, and today pulses to the beat of urban entertainment.
Lafayette Park: Detroit
Perhaps unique among ‘50s-era urban development schemes, Lafayette Park proved the success that its creators hoped for and remains an urban oasis today. Constructed between 1956-63, this development was designed by the best in the business. Master planner Ludwig Hilberseimer mapped out the 78-acre cluster of residential components grouped around a central park; and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe crafted a series of high-rise and low-rise structures that emphasized privacy and serenity in the midst of the bustling city.
Renaissance Center: Detroit
Detroit’s postcard image, the Renaissance Center is all gleaming dark glass, as impersonal perhaps as the tinted windows of a rich man’s limousine, yet a powerful expression of a city’s pride all the same. Designed by John Portman and completed in 1977, the complex consists of four 39-story octagonal office towers that surround the 73-story hotel cylinder. In the mid-1990s, General Motors bought the building for its world headquarters and hired Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to complete a major renovation to aid the navigation of the public spaces on the lower floors and to create the light-filled Wintergarden and a new riverside plaza.
Fox Theatre: Detroit
The legendary Fox is perhaps Detroit’s most exotic architectural setting. Like other great movie palaces of the 1920’s, it gave generations of Detroiters a fairy-tale setting in which to find entertainment, drama, or merely an escape from reality for a couple of hours. This opulent mélange of Egyptian, Hindu, Persian, Chinese, and Indian motifs was lovingly restored in the late 1980s when the Ilitch bought it. Since then, the Fox has anchored downtown’s revival and served as the cornerstone of the city’s theater and stadium district.
Guardian Building: Detroit
By any measure, the Guardian Building dazzles. Wirt Rowland of SH&G, fresh from his triumph at the nearby Penobscot Building, venture into new terrain with this Art Deco masterpiece, blending fine brickwork, glazed tile, terra cotta, and even painted fabric to achieve new combinations of form, texture, and color. The multiple mosaics and Pewabic tiles, the huge vaulted main banking floor, and the lively murals all attest to the ebullience of the 1920s and Rowland’s vision. Restored by SH&G’s successor firm SmithGroup, which makes its Detroit office here, the Guardian remains a Michigan treasure.
Art Prize, September 14-October 1, Grand Rapids: ArtPrize Events | Grand Rapids Art Festival (experiencegr.com)
Did you know that the world’s most attended public art event takes place every fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Since its inception in 2009, millions of people have visited ArtPrize to see thousands of artworks displayed all over downtown. This year, 600+ artists from around the world are competing for $400,000 in prize money. They will show their work in downtown museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, parks, hotels, churches, and other spaces. All of it is “human-made art” – springing from the hearts and minds of talented artists rather than the algorithms of artificial intelligence.
Great Architecture of Michigan 2021 Summer Road Trip:
Some of our first Road Trips focused on the Michigan buildings featured in the Michigan Architectural Foundation’s book, ‘Great Architecture of Michigan,’ written by John Gallagher with photos by Balthazar Korab. The Summer 2021 Road Trip explored the central western regions of the state, starting in Ionia and traveling west to Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland. A link to that original Road Trip can be found here:
Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM):
For a minimalist experience, look no further than the GRAM. This award-winning design was the first museum in the nation to receive the certification of LEED Gold. Using design strategies such as sensitive planning to maximize sun orientation, a highly efficient climate control system, a light-porous building envelope, optimized air and filtration systems, and rainwater recycling, the architects were able to dramatically reduce the building’s carbon footprint. For additional information, see the Michigan architecture feature on the GRAM in this month’s MAF newsletter.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park:
If you are looking for a unique experience combining art and nature, you will definitely want to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. This is one of our nation’s premier horticultural display gardens and sculpture parks. The 158-acre main campus opened in 1995 and is a delightful escape, where visitors can enjoy a variety of venues depending on what they choose to explore. For something different, you will not want to miss the Richard & Helen Devos Japanese Garden. These gardens are the very essence of tranquility, simplicity, and beauty.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum:
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is the presidential museum and burial place of Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States (1974–1977), and his wife Betty Ford. It is located near the Pew Campus of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ford’s presidential museum is the only such facility under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration to be separate from the presidential library, which is located approximately 130 miles to the east in Ann Arbor. The two-story, triangular-plan building constructed of steel and concrete has a three-hundred-foot-long east wall of glass, mirroring a panorama of the river and the city.
Midland Antique Festival, August 12-13, Midland: Midland Antique Festival – Michigan Antique Festivals (miantiquefestival.com)
A Michigan tradition for 55 years! If you are a shopper looking for vintage goods, antiques, collectibles, and more, the Midland Antique Festival is the perfect event for you. Held at the Midland County Fairgrounds, the festival brings together nearly a thousand antique dealers, offering a wide variety of unique items for you to browse and purchase. The Midland Antique Festival also features Michigan’s largest swap meet and hosts one of Michigan’s longest running car shows, making it a truly diverse and exciting event for everyone. Do not miss this one-of-a-kind experience.
Alden B. Dow Home and Studio: Midland
No trip to Midland would be complete without a tour of this masterpiece. Dow, an heir to the chemical fortune, was in his late 20’s when he apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1933, and soon afterward he built his studio in his hometown and went on to add his residence. Many see Wright’s influences in the horizontal lines and overhanging eaves, but the home and studio really belong to Dow’s own genius. Beautifully maintained as a museum, it ranks among Michigan’s very best of the best.
Herbert and Grace Dow House: Midland
It is easy to see where the great architect Alden B. Dow got his genes. His father, the founder of the Dow Chemical Co., and mother built this rambling house in 1899 and upgraded it over the years in a way that made a deep impression on their son. The overall style married the Shingle with the newly popular Arts & Crafts movement. The entry foyer is exceptional for its woodwork. Today the house is open for tours by appointment and is part of the extensive Dow Gardens in Midland.
Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest Canopy Walk: Midland
Although this is not a traditional building, the Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest are a “must see” if you are visiting Midland. At Dow Gardens you will experience a dazzling 110-acre display of annuals and perennials punctuated by distinctive bridges, towering pines, and delightful water features. Many of the bridges and site structures were designed by Alden B. Dow. While you are there, do not miss the adjacent Whiting Forest featuring 54 acres of woodlands, ponds, apple orchard, meadows, stream and the newly added (and the nation’s longest) Canopy Walk. The Canopy Walk is accessible to all visitors, is 1,400 feet long and soars up to 40 feet above the ground.