An Unusual Historic “Visitor” to The Golden Lamb

June 16, 2022  |  newsletter
Twenty Millionth Ford
The official photo of Twenty Millionth Ford automobile was taken in front of the “Lebanon House” on Wednesday, June 17, 1931. Behind the car is Popular Price Grocery, which is where the Shaker Dining Room is today in the Golden Lamb. The Goodrich Tires sign hangs over an auto parts store, which is now the Buckeye Dining Room.



by John Zimkus, Historian of the Golden Lamb


For nearly 220 years, patrons have visited and enjoyed the hospitality of the Golden Lamb.

To get to the Golden Lamb, our guests have traveled by several various means of transportation: On foot, by horseback, stagecoach, rail, motor coach, automobile, and even by bicycle. On at least one occasion, however, the inn’s special guest was not a person. Our guest was actually a “means of transportation.”

The date was Wednesday, June 17, 1931. The “guest” was the Twenty Millionth Ford automobile ever produced by the Ford Motor Company.

Henry Ford in Twenty Millionth Ford
Henry Ford drove the 20 Millionth Ford—a black 1931 Model A Town Sedan—off the assembly line at Ford Rouge Factory in Dearborn, Michigan, on April 14, 1931.

The historic automobile was a black 1931 Model A Town Sedan. Its engine was stamped "A20000000" at the Ford Rouge Factory in Dearborn, Michigan at 9:55 a.m. on April 1, 1931. Henry Ford himself drove the completed Model A Ford off the assembly line about two weeks later on April 14, 1931. Henry’s son, Edsel, who is credited for making the “Model A” the beautiful automobile that it was, sat in the passenger seat.

The car was specially painted with “TWENTY MILLIONTH” and had the Ford logo on both sides, as well as the top, as Henry Ford was a promoter of aviation at the time and wanted to be sure the car was recognizable from the air.

The Twenty Millionth Ford racked up thousands of miles on an extensive goodwill and advertising tour across America between 1931 and 1932. It went from New York to the West Coast, then to the South and finally back to Dearborn, Michigan.

Lebanon's local newspaper, The Western Star, wrote on June 18, 1931 (the day after the car’s historic visit):

“The local visit was arranged by Carl S. Bangham of Bangham Motor Company, local Ford dealers, and the party of thirty accompanying the car remained in Lebanon for over an hour stopping at the Lebanon House for lunch.”

Historical note: The Bangham Motor Co. was located at the southwest corner of Main and Mechanic streets, a block east of the Golden Lamb.

“C. D. Hilton, of Dearborn Mich., is in charge of the nationwide tour, and E. H. Huish, manager of the Cincinnati branch of the Ford Motor Company, accompanied the car on its trips through this section.

“Following a street parade, the car was parked at the hotel where a photograph was made and the party officially welcomed to Lebanon by Mayor Carey. The mayor, together with Marshal Fraser, Mr. Bangham and G. H. Townsley [editor and publisher of The Western Star newspaper], inscribed their names in the log of the Twenty Millionth Ford. This log and the photos made at the various stops will be preserved together with the car in Greenfield Village, Henry Ford’s reproduction of an early American village.

“After lunch and following a stop at the Bangham Motor Company the party left for Waynesville the next scheduled stop for the car.” 

Historical note: Robert Jones bought the “Lebanon House” a few years prior to the Twenty Millionth Ford's visit in 1927 after leasing it for a year. In 1935, Jones brought back the old inn’s original name — the "Golden Lamb."

Once home in Dearborn, the car was housed in the Henry Ford Museum for 10 years. Surprisingly, the car was sold as “surplus” by Ford in the 1940s. It eventually found its way to the small town of Chassell in Michigan's upper peninsula, where it was “rediscovered” in the 1990s after many years of private ownership. The Ford Motor Company then made a lease arrangement with the owners to re-acquire the car for use in Ford Centennial celebrations. 

Want even more fantastic tales?

Join the Golden Lamb's John Zimkus at Dinners with the Historian on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.


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