A Video History of the Ford Rotunda

ford-rotunda-colorHere’s an excellent film history of one of the Ford Motor Company’s most famous buildings, and probably its most beloved: The Ford Rotunda in Dearborn. 



For 26 years—from 1936 to 1962—the Ford Rotunda had an enormous impact on the Ford Motor Company and on the people of Dearborn, Michigan, the automaker’s home town. Originally built as the Ford display pavilion at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair, the sleek Albert Kahn-designed building was then disassembled, transported to Dearborn, and rebuilt directly across the street from Ford headquarters, where it became America’s fifth-largest tourist destination.

Current and future Ford products were displayed in the modernist 12-story structure, and the facility also became a social hub for the city, especially at Christmas time. Dearborn residents still fondly recall the elaborate holiday displays and their first visits with Santa at the Rotunda. Tragically, the building was totally destroyed by fire November 9, 1962, but it lives on to this day in the hearts of Dearborn residents and Ford enthusiasts at large.

Narrated by Helen K. Mamalakis of the Dearborn Historical Society, this excellent video does a far better job than we can in telling the Rotunda story. Please enjoy.


13 thoughts on “A Video History of the Ford Rotunda

    • That would be Henry Ford II’s decision with input from his mother Eleanor, and indications are they thought the Rotunda’s time had passed. Seems like a shame, it was a much-loved place.

  1. This is an awesome documentary on The Rotunda. My Grandfather (Joseph) and father (Roy) Maltese, plastered the interior. At 5:44 “Grandpa” carrying a plate of food. Almost fell off my chair. Thanks for including that photo.

  2. One of my best memories from childhood. I really wish they would have rebuilt it. I miss it so much and I think even today that the youth would love to see what we were able to see and experience in those wonderful wall of the Ford Rotunda.

  3. Thank you fora very well composed history of the Ford Rotunda. Unfortunately I didn’t see it, but have read some wonderful memories. At least yo have developed a descriptive video that provides a great testimonial.

  4. As a Dearborn teenager I borrowed a car and took my girl friend from Hamtramck to
    the Ford Rotunda in the evening at Christmas. She was very impressed and I was proud to be
    a resident of Dearborn.

  5. It won’t be an exact reproduction, but the Early Ford V-8 Foundation Museum, located in Auburn, Indiana, will be constructing a much smaller Rotunda patterned after the 1934 version. Construction is to begin in the Spring of 2017. Visit http://fordv8foundation.org/ for information. Donations are needed to ensure its construction.

Comments are closed.