Ford House upgrades designed to enhance visitor experience

The gallery room at the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. , is one of the property’s standout features. Work has begun on a series of long-term upgrades to restore the estate’s historical elements and enhance the experience for visitors. The changes will allow people to see the 1920s Grosse Pointe Shores mansion and the estate more in the way members of the Ford automotive family did when they lived there.

GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich. (AP)

The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in suburban Detroit has begun a series of long-term upgrades to restore the estate’s historical elements and enhance the experience for visitors.

The changes will allow people to see the 1920s Grosse Pointe Shores mansion and the estate more in the way members of the Ford family did when they lived there. And officials are considering building a new administration building so the staff wing of the mansion that was converted for offices can be restored.

Major electrical upgrades and a new storm-water management system are among the first projects completed. A bridge has been built to connect Bird Island to the rest of the property after opening a channel between Lake St. Clair and Ford Cove.

“As we plan for the future, we are taking this opportunity to replace aging systems with state-of-the-art, more efficient, systems, and to restore the landscape to the period when Eleanor and Edsel called the estate home,” says Kathleen Mullins, president and chief executive of the Ford House.

Edsel Ford was the son of auto pioneer Henry Ford. The estate was designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen and architect Albert Kahn.

To improve the ecological health of Ford Cove, the new storm-water management system drains runoff into landscape elements that filter water before it enters Lake St. Clair. The changes to Bird Island, a peninsula created by the Fords and Jensen to attract migratory birds, allow water to circulate with the aim of curbing problems posed by stagnant water, such as algae blooms.

The public was invited to a free event recently to mark the completion of the first improvements, including the reopening of Bird Island.

Electrical, sewer and irrigation systems were as old as the estate, so the Ford House has replaced more than 16,000 feet of underground electrical cabling. They also are adding more than 50,000 feet of underground piping and 1,000 sprinkler heads for an upgraded irrigation system.

More than 5,000 cubic yards of dirt from construction projects are being re-purposed to expand a berm system to protect the estate from potential floodwaters.

For more information, visit www.fordhouse.org.