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“Mystically spooky.”

That’s how Jim Johnson described Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.” The 1820s short story is the inspiration for the grand finale of sorts at Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village – where visitors cross the bridge and encounter the infamous Headless Horseman.

Irving’s story, Gothic literature, legends and other spooky tales are fundamental elements for much of the fun at Greenfield Village’s annual Halloween event.

“After the renovations to Greenfield Village, we decided to lift our Halloween event to a new level,” said Jim Johnson, who is senior manager of creative programs at The Henry Ford. “With the village as our backdrop, we wanted to find our own niche that had something for everyone and was family friendly.”

Just being in the village at night is a unique experience, and it provides the perfect setting for a Halloween event inspired by the past.

Graveyard at Greenfield Village

Jim said they looked at how the holiday evolved. “We found interesting things about how the celebration of Halloween changed over time,

“Customs started to take shape toward the at the end of the 19th century and almost click through a process that takes us to where we are today - where we decorate our homes and go house-to-house for trick or treating.”

Coming into the 20th century, Halloween wasn’t necessarily a kids’ holiday – other than they commonly pulled pranks like knocking over outhouses, putting wagons on rooftops, etc., Jim said. In order to curb the kids’ enthusiasm for a little mayhem, municipalities got into the action by planning themed parties and offering games and treats as a diversion from the destruction.

Halloween books at Greenfield Village

To meet the party trend, at the turn of the century and into the 1920s and 30s, there were a multitude of Halloween party guides and booklets published mostly by women, and candy and novelty companies.

Vintage Halloween party books

A popular inexpensive resource was Dennison’s Bogie Books. Dennison’s sold crepe paper used to decorate and make costumes. Jim Johnson keeps these reproductions on hand for reference and inspiration.

Frankenstein at Menlo ParkAdventure stories and Gothic literature were popular at that time and have sustained elevated interest at Halloween time. Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventures of buccaneers and buried gold in Treasure Island continues to inspire as seen in recent movie tales of tropical pirating. At Greenfield Village, pirates with sensibilities old and new populate the Suwanee Lagoon and walk among visitors, giving them a taste what it might be like conversing with an 1880s-style high seas treasure seeker.

With a nod to Gothic literature, Dr. Frankenstein has a perfect workspace - setting up shop in Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory.

Mary Shelley’s story of Frankenstein still holds the attention of audiences today, even though the book was first published in the early 1800s.

Another famous character from Gothic literature is making his debut at the village this year. A silent film based on Bram Stoker’s 1887 Dracula is shown near Sarah Jordan Boarding House.

Dracula

Visitors are captivated by the large projections of the 1922 vampire film Nosferatu (Dracula).

Works of the master of the macabre – Edgar Allen Poe – are highlighted in two prominent stops.

The ravens resting on the railing at Eagle Tavern are treated to the eerie tale twice: narrated once by a famous actor and once by a fictitious man. Visitors can hear the chilling story told by actor Christopher Walken and again by cartoon character Homer Simpson.

Tell-Tale Heart

Poe makes another appearance near Town Hall where actor Anthony Lucas provides a mesmerizingly haunting performance of the mad man at the center of the Tell-Tale Heart.

Hansel and Gretel

A first person account of the Brother’s Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel (with a surprise twist) keeps audiences of all ages intrigued.

Red Riding Hood

Throughout the village – authentically or whimsically – many costume creations are inspired by characters from famous stories of old. Hunchbacks, witches, Little Red Riding Hood, mermaids, fortunetellers, strong men, Merlin the Magician... 

… and even a character from Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser.

Near the end of trick-or-treating through the village, visitors can take a seat and listen to the tale that sets the scene for the remainder of their journey – through the dark candle-lit tangles of the Mulberry Grove (not-too-hauntingly) transformed into Sleepy Hallow.

Sleepy Hollow

Actor Seth Amadei gives a riveting account of the series of events that led up to the mysterious disappearance of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.

Scarecrow

Visitors just have to pass through the hallow and over the bridge …

Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village - inspired by old, new, mystical, whimsical and just the right amount of spooky.

Greenfield Village, Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village

Our violin collection

This week on “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” you’ll learn about Henry Ford's impressive violin collection. Want to learn more about Henry's love of violins? Take a look below. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

A 1931 Ford Model A leads a line of early cars and bicycles through Greenfield Village.

The calendar tells me that summer ended on September 23 this year. I know better. It really ended with the conclusion of our September 6-7 Old Car Festival, the traditional finish to The Henry Ford’s busy summer event season. But now that it’s fall by anyone’s measure, it seems like a good time to look back on this year’s show.

Dobles were mechanically superior, but alliteration made Stanleys the most memorable steam cars.

Approximately 900 cars, trucks and bicycles, none newer than 1932, turned Greenfield Village into a veritable motor museum – and one where most of the vehicles operated, at that! Steam and electric vehicles -- along with a few obscure marques -- offered variety, while the mass of Model Ts and Model As reminded us of how popular those Fords were in their time. Continue Reading

Old Car Festival

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The very first episode of our new television show, "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" airs tomorrow morning during CBS' Dream Team lineup. We can't wait for you all to see the first episode, "Microscopic Windmills," featuring our own Menlo Park Laboratory in Greenfield Village. You can see a sneak peek below. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Henry Ford and Edsel Ford Introducing the 1928 Ford Model A at the Ford Industrial Exposition in New York City (Object ID: P.O.4083).

It’s that time of year again, and Old Car Festival inside The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village is the place to see Ford Model As. The beloved automobile will make up almost a quarter of the sweet rides on display this year. But wait, Old Car Festival covers 42 years of vehicles, 1890-1932, so why are there so many from the four years the Model A was produced? After some research and talking with our Curator of Transportation Matt Anderson, here’s why. Continue Reading

Old Car Festival

Premier event photography by KMS Photography

In the classic baseball movie, The Natural, one of Roy Hobbs’ (played by Robert Redford) most memorable lines comes as he is sitting in a hospital bed, realizing that his final game is just days away.

“God, I love baseball,” Hobbs declares softly with a tilt of his head and a sincere look in his eyes that tells you how much he really means it. Watching that scene, you know Hobbs doesn’t care about the money that can be made playing baseball. He only cares about the pure joy of playing.

Well, Roy Hobbs would certainly fit right in with those who play Historic Base Ball at Greenfield Village. Continue Reading

Historic Base Ball

Photo courtesy of Greenberg Artists.

This year during Salute to America, guest conductor Bob Bernhardt will join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during The Henry Ford’s Fourth of July celebration in Greenfield Village. I had a chance to ask Bob, the principal pops conductor with the Louisville Orchestra, a few questions about what he’s most looking forward to next week on Walnut Grove. Continue Reading

Greenfield Village, Salute to America

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Memorial Day, June 1, school letting out. It seems there are plenty of different dates that mark the beginning of summer for some people; the summer solstice on June 21 being far too late.

For me, summer has always begun with the flash of sunshine on chrome-heavy bumpers, the throaty roar of a high-performance engine, and the smell of barbecue tinged with a bit of exhaust – for me, summer begins on June 14 this year, and every year around this time, with our Motor Muster car show in Greenfield Village.

This event is the essence of summertime fun – distilled delight for all the senses. Just as novelist Ray Bradbury in his 1957 classic, Dandelion Wine, described the nostalgic summer wine made by the main character’s grandfather, Motor Muster is “...summer on the tongue...(it’s) summer caught and stoppered.” Continue Reading

continental

Visitors to Henry Ford Museum will see a new vehicle in Driving America. Edsel Ford’s 1941 Lincoln Continental convertible is now in the exhibit’s “Design” section, located just behind Lamy’s Diner. The original Lincoln Continental, built between 1939 and 1948, is regarded as one of the most beautiful automobiles ever to come out of Detroit. It’s an important design story that we’re delighted to share.

The Continental’s tale began in the fall of 1938 as Edsel Ford returned from a trip to Europe. While overseas, Ford was struck by the look of European sports cars with their long hoods, short trunks and rear-mounted spare tires. When Ford got home, he approached Lincoln designer E.T. “Bob” Gregorie and asked him to create a custom car with a “continental” look. Using the Lincoln Zephyr as his base, Gregorie produced an automobile with clean, pure lines free of superfluous chrome ornaments or then-standard running boards. Continue Reading

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It’s with much excitement today that I announce that The Henry Ford has partnered with Litton Entertainment, a leading independent production and distribution company, on a new national television series. The show will be called The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and it will premiere on CBS this coming fall.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation will be a weekly half-hour news magazine hosted by Mo Rocca, of CBS News broadcasting, and two correspondents. The show will present inspiring and often untold stories using The Henry Ford’s archive of American Innovation to showcase present-day change-makers and the possibilities for future progress. Continue Reading

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation