Answered By: Archives & Library Staff @The Henry Ford
Last Updated: Jan 06, 2023 Views: 11

The Fords built the Dearborn Inn as one of the world's first airport hotels, servicing the Ford Airport across the street (now the Ford Test Track). The Inn's opening reception was held July 1, 1931 and opened to guests July 3, 1931.

Designed by Albert Kahn and built by A.A. Albrecht, the Inn had 109 guest rooms, formal dining room, and basement recreation room all furnished in the Early American style with some reproduction pieces based on artifacts from the Edison Institute (now The Henry Ford). The Inn was originally run by the Treadway Service Corporation of New York and staffed with hotel staff from New England. In 1932, the Alexandria Ballroom was dedicated with a ball hosted by the Fords. Over the next few years a barber and beauty shop, garage, tennis courts, swimming pool, playground, and badminton courts were added. The Inn became an early proponent of air-conditioning when the entire hotel was set up with a Carrier system in 1934. 

The need for expansion was soon felt, and in 1937 a Colonial Village of five houses was added behind the Inn. These houses were reproductions of famous Early American Houses, The Barbara Fritchie House, Edgar Allen Poe House, Patrick Henry House, Oliver Wolcott House, and Walt Whitman Cottage. The architect for these houses was Charles Hart and landscaping from the original houses was recreated by Marshall L. Johnson. 

The Inn was alcohol-free during Henry Ford's ownership, but a few years after he passed away a cocktail lounge was added in 1949. In 1953, Ford Motor Company transferred ownership to the Edison Institute with Seaboard Properties managing the property. In 1960, the need for expansion again arose, and the Motor House was added to the Inn composed of the Burbank and McGuffey buildings with 54 rooms complete with it's own enclosed garage and swimming pool. In later years, the garage area was converted to the Greenfield Rooms for private parties. 

The Edison Institute owned the Inn until 1984, when Ford Motor Company repurchased the property. The company ran the Inn under the management of the Lincoln Hotel Corporation and in 1987 decided to close the Inn for 18 months for a complete remodel and addition. The Inn reopened in 1989 under the management of Marriott International and continues under that management today.

Over the years special amenities were offered guests such as air-tours of the area via Tri-Motor from the Ford Airport. A number of well known personalities also stayed at the Inn including Jimmy Stewart, Liberace, the King and Queen of Greece, and even Lassie.

Bibliography

Archival

  • Acc. EI 160 Dearborn Inn Colonial Homes Records, 1937
    • box 1 Barbara Fritchie Cottage (general information and floor plan, photographs, furniture sketches, 
                    fabric and wallpaper samples)
                Patrick Henry Cottage (general information and floor plan, photographs, furniture sketches, fabric
                    and wallpaper samples)
                Edgar Allen Poe Cottage (general information and floor plan photographs, furniture
                    sketches, fabric and wallpaper samples)
                Walt Whitman Cottage (general information and floor plan, photographs, furniture sketches, fabric
                    and wallpaper samples)
                Oliver Wolcott Cottage (general information and floor plan, photographs, furniture sketches, fabric
                    and wallpaper samples)
       
  • Acc. EI 103 Dearborn Inn Records
    • box 1 Brochures; 1931, 1932, ca. 1932-1933, ca. 1950, ca. 1953-1971
                Brochures; 1963, 1981, 1982, ca. 1971-1985, ca. 1985, n.d.
                Colonial Homes; n.d.
                Correspondence; 1954, 1968-1969, 1975, 1982-1983
                Interview; Charles M. Hart, 1959
                Memorabilia; 1939, n.d.
                Menus, 1932, 1934, 1941, 1951, 1954, 1985
                News Clippings and Articles; 1930-1931, 1934, 1937, 1941, 1958, 1963, 1971, 1981, 1983-1984
                Plans - Ground and Floor; 1936-1937, 1959
                Press Releases and Fact Sheets; 1981, 1983, 1986
                Rededication; 1989
                Room Rates; ca. 1931-1933, 1962, 1966-1967, 1985  
                Room Tags, n.d.
                Sketches, n.d.
                Souvenir Pamphlets; 1947
    • Oversized Folder Wallpaper Samples, c.1932
    • box 2 Guest Book, 1931-1987 (signatures of notable guests including Liberace, Jimmy Stewart, Lassie)
       
  • Acc. EI 167 Seaboard Properties and Dearborn Inn Records
    • box 1 Financial Statements - Originals August, 1954 - March, 1961
    • box 2 Financial Statements - Originals April, 1961 - July 31, 1967
    • box 3 Files from 3rd floor Vault - Ad. Bldg.
    • box 4 Chase Manhattan Retirement Trust
                Accounting period, 1953
                Auditors Reports, 1953
    • box 5 Dearborn Inn Motor House Swimming Pool
    • box 6 Drawings
                   D4, D5 - Motor Lodge of the Dearborn Inn (11-58)
                   Kl, K2, K3 - Alterations to the Dearborn Inn kitchen and dining area (11-58)
                   Plot Plan - Dearborn Inn
                   2 Architect's drawings - Dearborn Inn (Leo J. Sarvis)
                   5 Architect's drawings - Dearborn Inn - exterior views
       
  • Acc. 1054 Seaboard Properties Records
    • box 1 State Sales Tax
                   Michigan State Board of Tax Administration Application For Michigan Sales Tax License
                      for Oakwood Hotel Company for Dearborn Inn and the Botsford Tavern
                   File of Sales Tax Application for License to Sell at Retail and General Sales Tax Return Forms
                       for Dearborn Inn (including July-December, 1933; January-June 1934 forms and work sheets
                       for Dearborn Inn; and July 1938- June 1939, including work sheets for the Dearborn Inn)
                   Ledger; Journal entries for Dearborn Inn purchases, cash receipts and check register, 1939
                   Balance sheets for Dearborn Inn, 1939-1941
    • box 2 Dearborn Inn employment records
                   Application cards
                   City of Dearborn Health Certificates
                   Employment record cards and discharge, or discontinued employment record cards, 1935-1938
       
  • Acc. 6 Edsel B. Ford Office Papers
    • box 68 DA-DE (inc. Robert O. Derrick, architect, various subjects – Dearborn Inn location)
    • box 100 PH-PU (inc. President's Office re: daily bus schedule between Rouge Office, Dearborn Lab,
                        Dearborn Inn and Village waiting room)
    • box 107 JO-JU (includes Marshall Johnson re: Rotunda & Dearborn Inn landscaping)
    • box 125 JO-JU (includes Marshall Johnson re: invoices for work at Rotunda, Village, Dearborn Inn)
    • box 129 TI-TY (includes L. G. Treadway Service Corp, literature on Dearborn Inn cottages)
    • box 211 Dearborn Inn, 1932 (2 folders) (Includes Daily Rooms Report)
    • box 216 Dearborn Inn, 1933
    • box 221 Dearborn Inn, 1934
    • box 225 Dearborn Inn, 1935
    • box 229 Dearborn Inn, 1936
    • box 233 Dearborn Inn, 1937
    • box 236 Dearborn Inn, 1938
    • box 242 Dearborn Inn, 1939
    • box 254 Dearborn Inn, 1941
    • box 249 Dearborn Inn, 1942
       
  • Acc. 285 Henry Ford Office Papers
    • box 1291 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Monthly statements)
    • box 1309 Rouge; Re: Dearborn Inn Secretary's Office - B. J. Craig, A. A. Jenkins, F. A. Thomson 
    • box 1427 Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Rooms Report, Monthly Statements
    • box 1441 Rouge; Reports re: Work at Dearborn Inn
    • box 1553 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 1585 Rouge; Building and Construction; The Dearborn Inn
    • box 1742 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 1876 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2000 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2123 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2261 The Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2356 Michigan - General (includes re: Michigan Hotel Association plaque for The Dearborn Inn)
    • box 2466 Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2646-7 Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2814-5 Dearborn Inn (inc. Daily Reports)
    • box 2941 Dearborn Inn
       
  • Acc. 587 Office of Henry Ford and Clara Ford Estate Records Series
    • box 15 Dearborn Inn, 1948
       
  • Acc. 286 Disbursing Vouchers Subseries and Statements Series
    • box 599 Financial Statements; The Dearborn Inn, April 1939 - January 1946
       
  • Acc. 1 Fair Lane Papers
    • box 185 Dearborn Inn; Correspondence and brochure, 1931-1942, and undated
       
  • Acc. 951 Ford Motor Company Non-Serial Publications Collection
    • box 7 Dearborn Inn
       
  • Acc. 19 Advertisement Collection
    • box 149 Visitor Attractions, 1932
    • box 150 Visitor Attractions, 1947
       
  • Acc. 545 Press Releases Records Subseries
    • box 15 Dearborn Inn
       
  • Acc. 1657 Irving R Bacon Papers
    • box 11 Dearborn Inn
       
  • Acc. 2013.122 Dearborn Inn architectural prints

 

  • Engineering and Blueprint Aperture Card Collection
    • drawer 1 Dearborn Inn
       
  • Acc. 1036 Construction Department Records Series
    • box 7 Contracts, proposals, specifications, correspondence, invoices, etc., re: construction of Dearborn Inn
    • box 8-11 Contracts, proposals, specifications, correspondence, invoices, etc., re: construction of Colonial Village cottages
       
  • Acc. 33 General Subject Files Subseries. Auditing Records
    • box 37 Dearborn Inn and Botsford Tavern Statements
    • box 38 Dearborn Inn and Botsford Tavern 1932-1938
       
  • Acc. 379 Gordon R Cornwell Records Subseries. Auditing Records
    • box 34 Seaboard Properties Company, Examination of - April 30, 1948; File 3: Dearborn Inn Papers
       
  • Acc. 391 Wendell S Miller Records Subseries. Auditing Records
    • box 22 Seaboard properties 1939-1946 (includes Dearborn Inn)
       
  • Acc. 524 Plant Engineering Department Records Series
    • box 1 Seaboard Property; Dearborn Inn
      ​​​​​​​
  • Acc. 721 Plant Engineering Construction Photographs Series
    • box 12 Dearborn Inn; Construction, 1930-1932; Dormitories, 1936; Garage, 1940 (3 folders)
      ​​​​​​​
  • Acc. 833 General Photographs
    • box 21 Dearborn Inn (2 folders, 36a and 36b)
      ​​​​​​​
  • Acc. 1660 Photographic Vertical File
    • box 121 Dearborn Inn
                       Aerial Views and Panoramas
                       Airplanes
                       Barbara Fritchie House (Interiors and Exteriors)
                       Construction
                       Edgar Allen Poe House (Interiors and Exteriors)
                       Exterior
                       Interior
                       Miscellaneous 
                       Oliver Wolcott House (Interiors and Exteriors)
                       Patrick Henry House (Interiors and Exteriors)
                       Signs and Signboards
                       Walt Whitman Cottage (Interiors and Exteriors)
                       Martindale House 
                       Ten Eyck Tavern
       
  • Acc. 188 Personal For Henry Ford Photographs Subseries
    • neg 18049 Progress of Cottages at Dearborn Inn, 12-4-1936
    • neg 20171-72 Cottages at Dearborn Inn, 2-16-1937
    • neg 22274-75 Dearborn Inn - Hammond Organ - For Mr. Packard - Mr. Ribetto, 1-20-1938
    • neg 28045-48 Soybean Exhibit - Mr. William J. Morse - Wheeler McMillan - George G. McIlroy - and Russel G. East - Dearborn Inn - Per Boyer, 8-20-1940
    • neg 28531-35 Dearborn Inn Garage Progress, 12-23-1940
    • neg 28561-63 Dearborn Inn Garage Progress, 12-30-1940
    • neg 28595-600 Dearborn Inn Garage Progress, 1-6-1941
       
  • Acc. 189 Photographs For The Company Series
    • neg 9251 Airview - Dearborn Inn, 11-3-1931
    • neg 12370 Dearborn Inn Dormitory, 3-31-1937
    • neg 13026-27 Chef at Dearborn Inn, 2-21-1938
    • neg 14807 Dearborn Inn Beauty Parlor, 7-10-1940
       
  • Acc. 84.8.1 Philippe Halsman Photographs
    • box 1 Slides; Miscellaneous; Dearborn Inn Putting Green
    • box 2 Transparencies; Miscellaneous; Dearborn Inn Putting Green
    • box 3 Negatives; Miscellaneous Dearborn Inn; Putting Green (color and black & white)
    • box 6 Prints; Miscellaneous Dearborn Inn; Putting Green

Trade Catalogs

Ford News

  • See Dearborn Inn
    • Construction
    • Events 
    • Expansion
    • Guests
    • Manager
    • Opening
    • Photos
    • Services
    • Sketch
  • See Also Advertising - Dearborn Inn

Oral Histories

Vertical File

  • Dearborn Inn

Books

  • Dearborn Inn. Jennifer Czerwick Ganem 977.433 D285 G196 2011

Related Topics

Contact Us

ATTN: The Benson Ford Research Center remains closed to the public for in-person research, tours, and visits. It will remain closed until further notice, but Research Center staff members continue to respond to inquiries. Please contact us by email, mail, or by submitting a question.

Mail:

Benson Ford Research Center
The Henry Ford
P.O. Box 1970
Dearborn, Michigan, USA 48121-1970