Undying love of Edsel and Eleanor Ford immortalized in bronze

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 22, 2016

 Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House board of trustees and the grandson of Edsel and Eleanor, unveils a new life-size statue of the couple June 13 on the grounds of the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. The statue can be seen in the gardens.

Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House board of trustees and the grandson of Edsel and Eleanor, unveils a new life-size statue of the couple June 13 on the grounds of the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. The statue can be seen in the gardens.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Theirs was a love story worthy of the silver screen, and the romance of Edsel and Eleanor Ford has now been immortalized in sculpture.

A life-size bronze of the couple out for a stroll was unveiled to members of the Ford family and community leaders during a ceremony June 13 on the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. Created by Brooklyn-based StudioEIS, the sculpture is now on display in the gardens that the Fords so loved. The sculpture was created in honor of what would have been the 100th anniversary of their wedding in November 2016.

StudioEIS, which has created bronze monuments of historical figures such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, spent nearly two years on this piece, explained StudioEIS founder and Director Ivan Schwartz. He said they carefully researched the couple’s weight, height and clothing styles to create the lifelike bronze, which drew impressed oohs and ahs from the couple dozen people present for the unveiling.

“This was really a joyous project,” Schwartz said. “These were two people who obviously loved and cared for one another very, very much.”

Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of the Ford House board of trustees and the grandson of Edsel and Eleanor, never knew his grandfather, who died at the age of 49 in 1943. However, he said he has many fond memories of his grandmother, who died at age 80 in 1976 and upon her death transferred her home to a trust so that it could become a historic site for the public to enjoy.

“This was a huge project, and the family was very involved in the whole process,” Edsel Ford II said of the sculpture.

He removed the cover from the sculpture and, like other members of his family, was quite pleased with the results.

“It’s just terrific,” Ford said of the bronze after the unveiling. “I think this (captures) their youthful enthusiasm. Ivan did a great job capturing their smiles.”

Local residents and officials appreciated the sweet statue — which features Eleanor looking at her husband as the couple stroll arm in arm.

“We think it’s very romantic,” said Grosse Pointe Shores resident Harry Kurtz, who was attending the unveiling with his wife, Lynn; both are Ford House members.

Representatives from the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce came to celebrate the unveiling too.

“We’re excited to be here (and) to be part of this (initiative) to share in this legacy of the Ford family,” said GPCC Executive Director Jennifer Palms Boettcher.

Several Grosse Pointe Shores city officials were on hand for the ceremony.

“What a wonderful celebration of love here,” Mayor Ted Kedzierski said.

City Councilman Robert Gesell said the Ford House is an asset to the Shores.

“It’s a beautiful facility, and we’re happy to support it,” he said.

The sculpture unveiling was just the first in what promises to be several months of wedding-themed special events at the Ford House. To mark the milestone Ford wedding anniversary, the Ford House is hosting an exhibition in the South Cottage that features Ford family wedding gowns, photos and other mementos from June 26 through the first week in November. 

In addition, local couples are invited to celebrate their own love stories during a vow renewal and garden party from 4:30 to 8 p.m. June 25. This event will feature a lakeside strolling dinner with wedding cake, along with a musical performance by local legends the Sun Messengers.

“The ‘Legacy of Love’ vow renewal is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for couples,” said Ford House President Kathleen Mullins in a prepared statement. “Since only a handful of weddings have taken place at Ford House, this celebration gives couples the opportunity to participate in a special ceremony and recommit themselves to each other with the beautiful backdrop of the Fords’ family home.”

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel will officiate the vow renewal. The Ford House is located in Macomb County.

Tickets for the vow renewal program cost $225 per couple, or $100 per person for the party alone.

The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores. For reservations or more information, call (313) 884-4222 or visit www.fordhouse.org.