GALION — The birthday of one of America’s titans of industry will be celebrated this weekend at a local landmark.
Preserving Galion, Inc. will host a birthday celebration to honor Henry Ford on Saturday, July 31. The party is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. on the lawn outside the historic Gill House located at 342 Harding Way West in Galion.
A pioneer of the American automotive industry, Ford — born on July 30, 1863, in Springwells Township, Michigan — began his professional career as an engineer in 1891 with the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit. While working there, he began experimenting with gasoline engines. Those experiments led to the development of the Ford Quadricycle, a two-seat roadster that helped pave the way for the founding of the company that would later become the Ford Motor Company in 1903.
Bloomer and Nellie Gill, the original owners of the Gill House, were friends of the Ford family. At the turn of the 20th century, Bloomer Gill was an executive with a Galion company that made buggy wheels, and his work took him to Detroit on a frequent basis. It was there that he met Henry Ford, who later made several trips to Galion to visit his friend.
According to the Gill family, Ford was the first person seen driving a car on the streets of Galion. The Gills were also close family friends with Ford’s good friend, world famous inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Edison was also a regular visitor to Galion.
This popular annual celebration of Ford’s birthday began in 2019, however the 2020 edition was canceled due to the COVID pandemic. Organizers of the event said they are “thrilled to bring it back for 2021.”
According to a press release promoting the event, visitors can enjoy antique automobiles on display, new vehicles from Donley Ford, musical performances, a history display, and free tours of the Gill House on Saturday. A food vendor will be on site offering tasty treats for a warm summer afternoon.
Reenactors portraying Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, are scheduled to be in attendance.
Visitors to the Gill House on Saturday will also be able to view the latest work taking place, including a complete restoration of the oval dining room this summer made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Galion Community Foundation.
The Gill House was built between 1902 and 1904 by Bloomer and Nellie Gill. The house was designed by noted Detroit architect Louis Kamper and constructed by local contractor John King, who also built the Big Four Depot and Galion Public Library in the same decade.
Preserving Galion, Inc. purchased the Gill House with funding provided by the Galion History Center. The non-profit agency has been conducting renovation and restoration of the historic home since acquiring it.
For information about Preserving Galion, Inc., go to its website preservinggalionhistory.wordpress.com. Information is also available on The Gill House and Preserving Galion, Inc. Facebook pages.
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