Detroit Central Market

A newly restored market building from the 1800s

Originally constructed in 1860 in downtown Detroit, the vegetable shed from the Detroit Central Market is making its debut at Greenfield Village this spring with programming elements being added throughout the summer.

After a storied 160-year history that included commerce, near-demolition and then reconstruction, the Detroit Central Market is the first permanent building addition to Greenfield Village since 2000. Guest can engage with Village presenters to learn more about the historic market's significance.

Countless stories await. Join us as we explore Detroit's historic public market - a local food environment that flourished only briefly. This history sets a stage for ongoing conversations about how we can envision a more sustainable food future.

Featured Programs and Guests

April 18 - June 9

Historic Presenter Onsite: Thursdays - Mondays

Dedication Weekend: 
June 10

  • Formal Dedication Ceremony - Open to the Public | 9:45 - 10:00 a.m.

    Arrive at Greenfield Village at 9:30 a.m. and head back to the Detroit Central Market to take part in a formal dedication ceremony for the first historic structure to be added to Greenfield Village since 2000.

    The ceremony will be livestreamed on The Henry Ford’s Facebook at approx. 9:45 a.m. for online viewing.

  • Cooking with edibleWOW: Demo with Chef DIG | 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Dedication Weekend: 
June 11

  • Cooking with edibleWOW: Demo with Chef Julie Selonke/MCCA | 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

  • Panel Discussion on Composting and Reducing Food Waste with Country Oaks, Make Food Not Waste and Detroit Food Rescue |1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

    Moderated by Debra Reid, Curator of Agriculture and the Environment
  • Cooking with edibleWOW: Demo with Chef Alex Young | 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Dedication Weekend: 
June 12

  • Cooking with edibleWOW: Demo with Chef Allison Anastasio| 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

  • Panel Discussion on Impacts of Wholesome Eating with the University of Michigan at Dearborn, Michigan Farmer’s Market Association, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Gleaners.| 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.

    Moderated by Jeremy Abbey, Soil2Service

  • Cooking with edibleWOW: Demo with Chef Phil Jones | 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

June 10 - 12 — Daily Historic Programming

Historic Presenter On-Site | 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Henry Ford Academy | Exhibit Pop-Up "Standing the Test of Time"

Curator-Led Walking Tours

  • An Ornament and Great Convenience: The Vegetable Building History, 1860-2021
    Presented by Jim Johnson, Director of Greenfield Village and Curator of Historic Buildings and Landscapes

    In 1860, the City of Detroit commissioned a new open-air building in the Central Market District to serve the growing population. It was designed to be both functional and beautiful. Learn more about the history and architectural features of this truly significant and unique building.

  • People in the Market, 1860-1894
    Presented by Debra Reid, Curator of Agriculture and the Environment

    Detroit city officials tried to manage the city’s public market, but vendors needed to distinguish themselves to attract customers. Learn more about some notable growers, sellers and buyers, and the market culture they created.

Village Premier: Two New Dramatic Programs

  • Mary Judge: Huckster, Stall 44

    Hear from the queen of the market, Mary Judge. She spent half of her lifetime reselling flowers, fruits and vegetables at Detroit’s Central Market. She’ll show you how to grab a customer’s attention, and you’ll get the lowdown on some of her colleagues and customers in the process.

  • The Good and the Bad Times at the Market: The Story of Benjamin Franklin Hockley

    Benjamin Hockley takes a breather from his work routines to share life lessons, and what a lot he has to share! From Tennessee to upstate New York to Toronto and Detroit, he navigates enslavement and freedom, supports his family by working for the city and finds strength in knowing what he has survived.

Daily Shopping Vendors

Browse and shop goods from a variety of local vendors, including Armada Fudge Company, Garlic Scapes, High 5 Salts, Mrs. Pruitt’s ChaCha, Aunt Nees, Burda’s Berries, Honey Display (Jim Ford) and more. .

Daily Partner Activities

Learn more from our corporate and community partners about their work alongside The Henry Ford, and participate in fun, curated activities like a seed exchange and pickle-making station.

Partners include Soil2Service, Michigan Soybean Commission, Project Green Machine, Make Food Not Waste, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Detroit Food Rescue, College for Creative Studies and more.

Building History

In 1860, the City of Detroit invested in a new permanent building for the Detroit Central Market to house vendors in the open-air market behind City Hall, referred to as the vegetable building or shed. From 1861 to 1893, farmers, market gardeners, florists and nurserymen sold their produce in this building from rented stalls, marking over 30 years of commerce in its original environment. 

The new building captured the exuberance and optimism of Detroit as it grew from a frontier fort and outpost to an important culture and industry-rich city. A “useful and beautiful” market building in the city’s central square was important in framing this image. Few buildings survive from this first era of Detroit’s growth. This one survived because city officials moved it out of the city center, thus preserving a rare 19th-century market structure.  

In 1894, Detroit’s Parks & Boulevards commission moved the market shed to Belle Isle, where it remained for 110 years and served a variety of purposes, including a vehicle and horse shelter, riding stable and more. Although the shed served as a monument to public life, it was scheduled to be demolished before The Henry Ford acquired it in 2003.

The Henry Ford purchased the building, dismantled it and moved it from Belle Isle into storage. Fundraising, research and development, and building preservation continued until 2020 when reconstruction officially began in Greenfield Village.

The Detroit Central Market project sheds light on how museums collect, preserve and interpret history, illustrating how a 162-year-old structure can be recast to serve the next generation.  

Keep Up with the Latest Stories on Our Blog

Learn more about the history of Detroit Central Market, plus new ways we’re bringing stories of edible education to life on our blog.

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Have historical stories at the Detroit Central Market you’d like to share? Contact us at

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