Friday Find: Packrat to Preservationist

Esther Gordy Edwards
Esther Gordy Edwards

Today, Friday, March 4th is the first Friday of Women’s History Month. In honor of the month long celebration, we are highlighting a very important figure in preservation, musical, and African American history, Esther Gordy Edwards. Her name might not be sound familiar at first, but you have heard of Motown Record Corporation, established by her brother, Berry Gordon. Not only was Motown a successful record company, it produced some of the 60’s greatest hits by famous musicians including: Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and more!

Edwards, along with other members of the Gordon family, played an important role at the company. In 1972 Edwards decided to stay in Detroit to manage the corporate office while the rest of Motown moved to Los Angeles. She understood the importance of preserving and collecting Motown’s early history and retained a large collection of memorabilia as well as the original recording studio. Lucky for us Edwards was a packrat and her love of Motown preserved this important part of American history forever.

Motown Museum
Motown Museum

In 1985 she decided it was time to share these memories and the building where it all started with the rest of the world, and officially opened Motown Museum. Two years later in 1987 the state of Michigan designated Hitsville U.S.A. at 2648 West Grand Boulevard a historic site. Today, we owe it all to Esther Gordy Edwards for preserving the memories and place where some of America’s greatest hits were recorded. Sadly, Edwards passed away in 2011, but she will forever be remembered as preserving the legacy of Motown. To learn more or visit the museum click the following link: http://www.motownmuseum.org/

-Marisa Holden
Marketing and Events Director, NPT
m.holden@nantucketpreservation.org