Ford House staff and architects have finished restoring the swimming pool, lagoon and surrounding landscape of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s historic estate.
The 87-acre estate located in Grosse Pointe Shores was named a National Historic Landmark in 2016, and was originally designed and constructed in the late 1920s. The Ford family started living on the property in 1928, and the Ford House opened its doors to visitors in 1978. This project restored the entire southeast corner of the estate to how it was originally imagined, and the newly finished area will be open to visitors after Aug. 1.
The project is one of the most extensive Ford House renovations to date, with architects from Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates. Its founder, Albert Kahn, was part of the team that designed the home almost a century ago, working with the Ford family and landscape architect Jens Jensen.
To ensure historical accuracy, the team of architects used archives from the Ford House, including original plans, architectural drawings, historical photographs and family films. They paired these records with modern technology and construction techniques to make sure it would last another century.
“As stewards of a National Historic Landmark, this is an important piece of Ford House’s mission to preserve and restore the physical fabric of this estate,” said Mark J. Heppner, president and CEO of Ford House. “We’re excited to turn back the clock so that visitors will now be able to experience the pool, lagoon, landscape and lake views as the Ford family did nine decades ago.”
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The iconic kidney-shaped swimming pool was in need of repairs due to multiple leaks since its installation 95 years ago, and the landscaping had been altered from its original design. It was created to feel like the woods of northern Michigan with native shrubs and trees, and vantage points offered stunning views of Lake St. Clair.
“Before the restoration, the landscape behind the pool had become overgrown. It lost its hierarchy, the diversity of material, and the layering that were meant to replicate a northern Michigan landscape,” said Stephen White, principal and director of landscape architecture and urban design for Albert Kahn Associates. “The landscape had lost its character, but we were able to bring it back.”
Visitors can experience the pool and lagoon area when they come to visit Ford House, though no swimming is allowed in the pool. The estate is open six days a week, and admission for a grounds pass is $5.
Ford House will also host a poolside party 7 p.m. Aug. 4, featuring music, light hors d’oeuvres and summery cocktails. Admission is $60 for the public, $45 for members and includes one drink ticket. A cash bar will also be available.