Esther Gordy Edwards is the founder of Motown Museum and a former Motown Records’ senior vice president and corporate secretary. The last thing on Mrs. Edwards’ mind was establishing a museum when Motown’s headquarters moved to Los Angeles in 1972 and she stayed to maintain a corporate office at Hitsville U.S.A. in Detroit. As she worked, people would knock on the door, asking to “take a peek” at Studio A, the original Motown recording studio where their favorite songs had been recorded. Ever gracious, Mrs. Edwards would stop working and take these uninvited, but nonetheless welcomed, guests on an impromptu tour of the facility.
It soon occurred to her, after eventually touring thousands of people from around the world, that the building at 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Hitsville U.S.A., had become a monument to the music Motown created. Sister to Motown Founder, Berry Gordy, Mrs. Edwards called her brother and said, “Berry, I think we made history and didn’t know it.” He agreed. With keen insight and a vast collection of Motown memorabilia she had acquired during her years with the company, she set out on what she refers to as “a divinely guided mission” to establish a museum devoted to preserving the Motown legacy, which also encompassed the Gordy Family history, and to share the phenomenal American success story with all people, especially youth.
The Museum opened in 1985 in the Hitsville U.S.A building and was declared a Historic Site by the State of Michigan in 1987. The Museum was renovated in 1995, when a gallery was added and the early Motown offices and upper flat in which a young Berry Gordy and his family lived were restored.
Today, decades later, several million grateful Motown fans have visited Hitsville U.S.A. Motown Museum is the only place in the world where visitors can experience the actual place where the Motown Sound was created and stand in the footsteps of the Motown Stars who made it.
Mrs. Edwards passed away on August 24, 2011 but her work continues on at Motown Museum.