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Freaky Friday: You’re Not Martha Stewart, But You Wish You Were

[Image: Josephew/Wikimedia]

Sometimes readers just need a reminder that Martha Stewart — culinary queen, decorating maven, celebrity roast participant, buddy to Snoop, ex-con — owns Edsel Ford’s sprawling vacation home in Maine.

Yes, the Mount Desert Island property built for Henry Ford’s only child in 1925 has been in Martha’s experienced hands for 20 years now, and yes, she’s got an Edsel there. The laws of tablescaping demand it. And not even one of the popular Edsel models, either (if you can use that descriptor for any progeny of the disastrous brand). No, she owns a very, very rare Edsel.

This is one of those rare times when an archived spread in Architectural Digest suddenly becomes a must-read. While I don’t subscribe to such highbrow reading materials, preferring not to dream too big, I was intrigued when a friend sent the article my way.

“Martha,” I thought. “Hmm… The nice lady from the TV and the slammer. Let’s see what kind of place- oh my God, she’s got an Edsel there!”


Indeed, she has a 1958 Edsel Roundup, also known as a gussied-up Ford Ranch Wagon with a bigger (361 cubic inch) engine and a hideous face. The Roundup lasted one year on the market, which is slightly less than half the lifespan of the Edsel brand itself. Ford’s ill-conceived marque cranked out 963 of these two-door wagons.

If you’re curious to see more of the car, which was a present from her daughter, as well as hear Martha pronounce “desert” like “dessert” (she just can’t help it!), check out this segment from the defunct TV show Martha.

Skylands is a picturesque, 63-acre testament to the excesses of the Roaring Twenties and shows just what a man is capable of if his father created the assembly line and put a car in every driveway. Edsel’s son, Henry II, showed what a man is capable of if he listens to math whizzes and focus groups too much.

Martha — I’m using her first name because I feel like I know her — spends summers and long weekends at the 12-bedroom mansion. Being one to appreciate period decor and furnishings, Martha has kept things pretty much the way they were back in those heady days when the stock market had nowhere to go but up. (She’s no stranger to stocks herself.) Naturally, Skylands has seen some improvements and modern amenities.

Though he died at a young age, Edsel Ford’s reign as president of his father’s company contained many highlights. Those include the purchase of Lincoln, the creation of the Zephyr and Continental models and the Mercury brand, and the fateful decision to pressure père Ford into modernizing elements of the wildly successful Model A before launch. No doubt he would’ve been horrified by the 1958 abomination bearing his name. The ’59s, I will admit, don’t offend nearly as much.

At least he can rest easy knowing his vacation retreat is in good hands. It’s a good thing.

[Images: Josephew/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0); ADunwoody07/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)]

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