Sponsorship & Volunteer

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Freer House Garden Fund Grows on WSU Giving Day

Dear Freer House Members & Supporters,
Thank you, thank you, thank you! We tripled our goal for the Freer House Garden Fund during WSU Giving Day on April 13, 2023 and raised $6,150 from 49 donors! This will help us cover the annual costs of maintaining the garden for 2023 and assure the garden's continued health and growth. Thank you to everyone who supports the garden, through a financial contribution, publicly expressed support, or by simply taking a few minutes to visit the garden and enjoy the surroundings.

Please click HERE to enjoy a brief time-lapse video of the Freer House gardens in all four seasons. With many thanks for your interest and support,
William Colburn, Director, The Freer House (& Gardens!)
Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Wayne State University

The Freer House is privileged to partner with local businesses and foundations who are dedicated to the mission of preserving the Freer House for future generations. There are many benefits to partnering with the Freer House, including presence at events, on our website and networking. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact William Colburn at 313-664-2511.

Learn about Freer House programs you can support, visit:
Freer House Restorations Projects
Freer House Events

Volunteers and Docents

The Freer House is grateful to these dedicated volunteers who make our events and programs possible!
If you are interested in becoming a Freer House volunteer or docent, please contact William Colburn at wscolburn@hotmail.com or 313-664-2511

We asked our wonderful volunteers and docents to describe what motivates them to offer their valuable time and talents to the Freer House. Here are their fascinating responses.

Why I Volunteer for the Freer House . . .

Molly Ann Addison
Occupation: Occupational Therapist, MOTR/L  
Lives In: Detroit, MI

"I worked as a student assistant at the Freer House and got to know and appreciate the staff and the beauty of the house and its history. I like to imagine the day to day goings-on of Freer and his guests from that era as I walk under the same roof they did. I also enjoy the many interesting people that visited and continue to visit the house and attend events."


Darren Brim
Occupation: Fiduciary and Claims Specialist, Social Security Administration
Lives In: Grosse Pointe Park, MI

"I have a passion for Detroit's architectural heritage. I've always been attracted to the city's beautiful buildings. So much of the built landscape has rapidly disappeared, which is why I am very fortunate to be involved with the Freer House. Its history and significance are an integral part of the Detroit story. The best part of this architectural adventure is that there's always more to discover."


Michael D. Coleman
Occupation: Co-owner, Keirdale Properties, LLC
Lives In: Lincoln Park, MI

"I was first introduced to the Freer House by the late historian, Dr. Dorothy Kostuch, and instantly fell in love. Not only with the house, but also with the fascinating and complex story of Charles Lang Freer.

Being a docent at the Freer House is wonderful as it is more than simply telling the story of a man who built a magnificent house in Detroit and who collected art. While the house is a piece of local history, Mr. Freer's story is a global one which stretches from upstate New York, to Detroit, to Europe, to Asia and finally to Washington, D.C.

I also enjoy the fact that volunteers are updated on and many times involved with the new discoveries about the house and the life of Mr. Freer and that we are also encouraged to do our own research and contribute to the ever-expanding story. There is something seductive about the history of this house and this man. As different layers are revealed, they only allude to the fact that there are many, many more waiting to be discovered."


Sandi Combs
Occupation: Freelance Graphic Artist & Photographer
Lives in: Roseville, MI

"It is a distinct honor to have served as a volunteer since 2012. Greeting guests and photo shoots are my favorite tasks. I've been visiting the Freer House for 15+ years, yet each time, I discover something new.

I am so intrigued by Mr. Freer's astonishing visions, unparalleled perception, and superlative appreciation of fine art; combined with his unrivaled dedication to and documentation of such a unique, exquisite collection. Upon viewing the interior or exterior of the home, we experience opulence, serenity, and tranquility simultaneously.

Mr. Freer has provided us with a vast legacy to explore. Each lecture features an extraordinary speaker who leads us on an exciting adventure which guides us to understand his purpose and complexities; offering us an abundance of newfound knowledge."

Ryan Cunningham 
Occupation: Administrative Assistant, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Wayne State University
Lives in: Sterling Heights, MI
"I think what's most fascinating about the Freer House is what it's not. It sits unassumingly adjacent to a grand, Chateauesque-style mansion, a prime example of Gilded Age ostentation. Mr. Freer's choice of simple elegance and a deference to art, produces a different vision from what we imagine the Victorian man to be. It's this unraveling of history that keeps me coming back to the Freer House. It is the dedicated staff and fellow volunteers who never cease to inspire me."

Lillian Dean
Occupation: Environmental Landscape Planner
Lives in: Huntington Woods, MI
"The Freer House, with the "textured composition" of its revitalized gardens, is an important historical and architectural treasure of Detroit.  
As a landscape planner with a passion for architectural history, I am intrigued by Mr. Freer's aesthetic sensibility and his search for harmony --- reflected in the architecture, interior design, display of American and Asian art, and Freer's original garden plantings. As a volunteer, it is a joy to work with Director William Colburn and the outstanding team of volunteers for the purpose of sharing the amazing legacy of Charles Lang Freer with the public."


Chuck Demske
Occupation: The Henry Ford Museum Staff
Lives In: Dearborn, MI

"I am so pleased to share the story of this most fascinating past citizen of the dynamic city of Detroit. I feel Freer's home has been a hidden jewel in the city. I'm so glad to be able to point out all of its innovative features with all who visit."


Amelia Ann Gail
Occupation: Former Owner, Gail Office Supply Company
Lives In: Detroit, MI
"Everything about the Freer House is fascinating and wonderful. I learn something new with every visit. I love all the people involved and especially enjoy meeting the guests who come and show such delight at seeing this Detroit landmark for the first time."

Laura Grimshaw
Occupation: Wellness Coach, owner of BalanceTech Detroit
Lives in: Historic Woodbridge Neighborhood, Detroit, MI
"When a friend from Manhattan asked me 'Do you know about the Freer House?' I answered yes, because I have stopped to read the historical marker and have driven past for decades. Boy, was I wrong! My friend, Anna, met with her brother & his wife at the home and invited me along for the tour. It was during this tour that I felt a deep connection to the house, to Ryan and William, (the Director who gave the tour), and realized that Charles Lang Freer has perhaps the most important United States legacy and story of art - all beginning and involving Detroit history. And mostly unknown! Hidden in plain sight.
My connections run deep: from my own stewardship of the Gary Grimshaw (another Detroit story) art legacy; to my general interest in art; to my interest in Detroit and in architecture; this place and these people drew me in, one-hundred percent. I hope to do all I can in my position as a volunteer to promote the preservation of the Freer House and get the story of Charles Lang Freer into the hearts and minds of all Detroiters.
I can now answer Anna's question 'Yes, I know about the Freer House and am learning more about it and Charles Lang Freer all the time'! Thanks, Anna.


Hiroko Lancour, MFA, Freer House Artist in Resonance
Occupation: Artist
Lives In: Royal Oak, MI

The Freer House is proud to announce that our Freer House Artist in Resonance, Hiroko Lancour, has been selected as the DIA's featured artist for May, 2021 and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

A video about Hiroko and her extraordinary artwork has been filmed by Gary Watts and edited by DIA staff. The video can be seen on the Freer House main page or about page and on the DIA's YouTube channel.

Hiroko has long been inspired by the legacy of Charles Lang Freer, a Detroit art collector who had a deep understanding and appreciation for the art, culture, and people of her native land of Japan. Hiroko is an active volunteer for the Freer House and has made significant contributions to researching and documenting Freer's travels and exceptional connections to Japanese art and artists. In 2017, the Freer House hosted a solo exhibition of Ms. Lancour's artwork in Freer's gallery rooms, the first-time that original art had been displayed in this historic house since Freer's passing in 1919.

Hiroko's life and artwork have also been thoughtfully featured in an article on Essay'd: an art writing, curatorial, and educational project based in Detroit.

Hiroko on Freer House: "In the spring of 2004, there was an exhibition called "American Attitude: Whistler & His Followers" at the Detroit Institute of Arts. While writing a review of the show for a local website, I first learned about the Detroit industrialist and art collector Charles L. Freer and his house on Ferry Street. The moment I stepped into the Freer House, I was fascinated by the architecture and its rich history. My subsequent visit to the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has deepened my appreciation of Mr. Freer as an art collector and his legacy.   

I am particularly interested in Mr. Freer's connections with Detroit and Japan. I enjoy researching, discovering new information, and sharing it with the Freer House staff and volunteers. It is a pleasure to be a Freer House volunteer because I can make myself useful with my bilingual skills in Japanese and English. It is also a privilege to be a Freer House volunteer because it allows me to assist in cultural exchange activities that promote a better understanding of the U.S. and Japan."


Kathleen Marcaccio
Occupation: Retired (Editor/Data Analyst/Metadata Manager, Gale|Cengage)
Lives In: Royal Oak, MI

"In 2003, I began volunteering as a Preservation Detroit tour guide, leading tours in the Cultural Center in which the Freer House is located. I knew the basics about the Freer House and its architecture as well as the relationship between Mr. Freer and Colonel Frank Hecker and their business. So when the opportunity arose to attend an event at the Freer House and tour the building, I couldn't pass it up! I went back for a second event, and then became a volunteer because I wanted to learn more about one of our city's hidden gems. The story of the Freer House is like a wheel, with each spoke a unique aspect of Charles Lang Freer and his interests: Detroit's transportation industry, the local art scene, James McNeill Whistler, American art, Freer's travels around the world, his love of Asian art, the Smithsonian Institution, and more. The wheel keeps turning thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Freer House, with new stories from its past unfolding and being shared!! It's a real pleasure to be a part of it!"


Gail Powell
Occupation: Office Administrator, Barton Malow Builders
Lives In: Detroit, MI

"I love history and I love touring the grand houses of Detroit from ages past. The Freer House combines these two loves.

My first introduction to the Freer House was during a tour that was given one year during the Detroit Festival of Arts. I didn't know anything about Charles Lang Freer or his art collection, but that one visit sparked my interest, especially the Peacock Room. As a volunteer with Preservation Detroit, the Freer House is one of the homes that we visit during our Cultural Center tours. I enjoy seeing the reaction from tour-goers as we make our way through the grounds of this beautiful home.

Since becoming a Freer House volunteer, I've widened my education on Mr. Freer, his life and his art collection. He was definitely a man ahead of his time."


Rebecca Binno Savage
Occupation: Architectural Historian, City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board
Lives In: Hamtramck, MI

"The compelling history of the Freer House, Charles L. Freer, the art collection, and the architecture are significant parts of Detroit's history. Yet it's a hidden history at the Freer House, and it is exciting to share with people. I am fortunate to have learned about the Freer House from some of the nation's experts, and I am always learning more from different perspectives."


Walter J. Szymborski
Occupation: Customer Service Representative I, ISMG Servicing, Team I Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Lives In: Wyandotte, MI

"I've always been drawn to and fascinated with the history of Detroit, its architecture, and its leaders of industry and culture. Volunteering at the Freer House lets me connect with that history and allows me to make it a part of my world. If I can help others embrace and celebrate Detroit's past, then I can help them realize Detroit's bright future!"