The Merrill-Palmer Institute / Charles Lang Freer House

Registered Site S0315

The Merrill-Palmer Institute

This house was built for industrialist Charles Lang Freer in 1890. Upon Freer’s death in 1919, the executors of the will of Lizzie Merrill - Palmer purchased the house for use as a school devoted to improving the quality of parenting. This school became what is now known as the Merrill - Palmer Institute, one of the first institutes of child development in the United States. Merrill – Palmer’s model, combining study, research, and work with children, was widely copied in other locations nationally. Its preschool, opened in 1922, led the development of preschool education and childcare across the nation. In 1981 the Merrill – Palmer Institute became part of Wayne State University.
photo of The Merrill-Palmer Institute

Charles Lang Freer House

Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer prospered primarily as a railroad car manufacturer. This house, considered Michigan’s finest example of the Shingle Style, was designed by Wilson Eyre Jr. of Philadelphia and built in 1890, Here Freer (1854 – 1919) assembled on of the most extensive Asian art collections in the world. He also collected Pewabic Pottery and the work of contemporary American artists such as Whistler, Dewing, and Tryon. A 1905 addition incorporated, the “Peacock Room,” decorated by James Whistler, which was removed from a house in England and transported here as part of Freer’s art collection. In 1906 he donated his art collection and the Peacock Room to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Erected 2003

Location: 71 East Ferry St.
Detroit, Wayne County

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Latitude: 42.361664, Longitude: -83.065934

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