By on May 5, 2017

[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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20 Comments on “Freaky Friday: You’re Not Martha Stewart, But You Wish You Were...”

  • avatar

    I don’t think the front view is that bad, myself.

    I don’t see a way it’s obviously worse than, say, a Buick Super.

    Or, well, “any random interchangeable ’58 Chevy”. Or Ford.

    It’s *different*, yes.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. In the late 50s, it was hardly the only “differently styled” car , and was far from the oddest. The recession of ’58 and an unnecessary market target between Mercury and Lincoln has more to do with the flop than the grill.

      • 0 avatar

        The car had bad build quality also. Edsel was a hopelessly old fashioned name even in the late 50s. Toilet seat shaped grill. Rolled out in the middle of a recession. Over-hyped. Over priced. Add it all up and the total equals ‘failure’.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually the Edsel was two different cars on introduction, a gussied up Ford and a dressed down Mercury and was supposed to cover the ground between the Ford and the Mercury that had its price raised. In reality it overlapped heavily with those two brands. For 59 it became a gussied up Ford and an Edsel in the Mercury body was dropped.

  • avatar

    It was so good they names a weedkiller after it. Fantastic house. If only Marf had been a banker she would have been spared so much pain.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    An appropriate name for a weed killer, after a defunct trim of a defunct car brand.

  • avatar

    The front 3/4 view of the ’58 Edsel always reminded me of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Doesn’t that make it classy?

  • avatar

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again , the Edsel has what plants crave – it’s got electrolytes ! Why I’ve seen plants growing in Edsels in junkyards everywhere . Ain’t never seen no plants grow out of no toilet !

  • avatar

    Well..after 30+ years of being told that Edsels are ugly.. I think I now have a reason to say…”If Martha has one, it looks good to me”

  • avatar

    Martha pronounces Mt. Desert absolutely correctly. Even though, as we say in Maine, she is “from away”.

  • avatar
    Pete Skimmel

    Edsels are OK, but I’ll take the pale green Studebaker Conestoga wagon standing to the right of the Edsel in the photo.

  • avatar

    Jeeze ~

    I remember hiking Mt. Desert in the early 1960’s, several times, camping there too .

    I must be crazy as I’m beginning to like Edsel’s looks, prolly shoulda bought that two door sedan for $500 a few years back .

    A Ranger I *think* it was .


    • 0 avatar

      Maybe the Edsel horse collar no longer looks strange because you’re old enough to remember the big nose cars that followed. Bunkie Knudsen apparently did’t think that was the Edsel’s problem, he put a big nose on ’60s Pontiacs, and in only two years at Ford, he put the same look on the Ford LTD that lasted long after he was gone.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    1) Owns an Edsel
    2) Served a sentence in a Federal prison
    3) Is now in the post-menopausal/hot flashes period of her life
    4) Has to keep up the facade of knowing everything about everything that women might find interesting.

    Do I wish I were Martha Stewart? No, absolutely not!

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    “Dessert” is the correct local pronunciation. The island was given its name by the French (Champlain) who pronounce desert more or less like the English dessert and that stuck.

  • avatar

    I apologize in advance, and maybe i’m too young to appreciate, but looking at the picture my first thought was wow! now THAT’s a flying vag….!

    Farago had it all wrong.

    I still read TTAC weekly btw.


  • avatar

    What, no side, 3/4 views of this rare Roundup??

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