This past weekend marks the 75th anniversary of Lovett Hall. Tucked in between Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village sits the stately hall, a well-known icon on The Henry Ford campus.
Lovett Hall is named after Benjamin Lovett, an accomplished dance instructor and friend of Henry Ford. Benjamin grew up loving music and dance, and after teaching himself how to dance began giving lessons with his wife, Charlotte. The Lovetts eventually made their way to Dearborn in 1924 at the urging of Henry.
Henry loved the community dances of his youth. Henry believed everyone should love dancing as much as he did, so he hired Benjamin to call the dances and teach others. If you wanted to associate with both Henry and his wife Clara, you needed to be ready to dance.
When Greenfield Village Schools opened in the late 1920s, dancing was part of the curriculum. It would be a few years before the students had a formal location to dance. As Henry’s educational campus began to expand, plans for a larger education building were made. Lovett Hall, known as the “recreation building” opened its doors in 1937 after a year of construction and featured a lavish ballroom. Monthly dances were a common occurrence at Lovett Hall, with Henry and Clara on the dance floor and Benjamin calling the dance steps.
Lovett Hall wasn’t just for dancing, though. Upon its opening in 1937 it quickly became a home to Greenfield Village high school and Institute of Technology students. The hall’s pool and gym were marveled at by many. The building also provided laboratories, drafting rooms, and even a library to the students. Benjamin eventually became the head of the Department of Social Training and the Art of Dance. The institute closed in 1943 and the high school closed in 1952. Lovett Hall continued to act as an educational building, offering dormitory programs and adult education classes. Often referred to as the education building in years past, Lovett Hall remains the formal name for the structure.
After Edsel Ford died in 1943, Henry lost most of his passion for dancing. Henry’s health began to fail and the importance he had once placed on dancing began to wane. Benjamin died in 1952 at the age of 76.
Today, Lovett Hall serves a variety of purposes at The Henry Ford, with one of them being a venue for private events. The spirit of Benjamin is alive and well during the countless wedding receptions held in the hall as happy guests take to the much rumored “spring-loaded” dance floor and dance the night away.
If you have any memories of Lovett Hall you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!
Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.
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Special Exhibits at The Henry Ford
Take a look at some of our resource roundups for past exhibits and special events at The Henry Ford: