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A House and its History

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 Institute (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. The Freer House is open periodically to the public for lectures, receptions, exhibits, and guided tours. Please visit our Events page for more information on how to plan your visit.  

Click HERE to take a virtual tour of the Main Hall of the Freer House! Our sincere thanks to John Boros and Flythroo for producing this 3D tour!

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. Please visit our History page for more information and resources on this artistic treasure. 

Co-founder of the Friends of the Freer House and longtime Board of Visitors member of MPSI, Phebe Goldstein, sadly passed away in January 2020. Click HERE to read more about this extraordinary friend and supporter of the Freer House. 

We mourn the loss of Freer scholar, Freer House Board Member, and longtime friend to the Freer House, Dr. Thomas Brunk. Click HERE to read more about this esteemed scholar and the vital role he played in both documenting and helping to preserve the historic Freer House.

The Freer House membership organization works to preserve the Freer House through public events, tours, and fundraising for restoration. Please visit our Membership page to begin a rewarding role in historic preservation today!