Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Charles Lang Freer House (71 East Ferry Avenue)

Built by industrialist and art collector, Charles Lang Freer, in 1892; the Freer House is a masterpiece of American shingle-style architecture and the birthplace of the Freer Gallery of Art (NMAA, Smithsonian) in Washington D.C. As an early champion of American, Asian, and Middle Eastern art, Freer's legacy of multi-culturalism is celebrated in the house's mission and programming today. These bonds to our nation's capital and much of the world make the Freer House an ambassador of Detroit's unique cultural heritage.

The Freer House is also recognized for its role in child and family development. In 1920, the Freer House became the home of the Merrill-Palmer Institute, which evolved into the renowned Merrill Palmer Skillman Insitute (MPSI). Today, the Freer House is the location for MPSI's faculty offices and meeting room facilities.

Although the Freer House's structure and finishes have evolved to suit institutional needs, much of its original grandeur and architectural character remain.

During Freer's life, he and his guests could wander from the Main Hall and be transported into the exotic Peacock Room. The Peacock Room was originally decorated by James McNeill Whistler in England. Freer purchased the room and had it installed in his former Carriage House. Upon Freer's death, the Peacock Room was once again dismantled and reinstalled at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., where it is on permanent display.