The Ford House

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family.

Site and Systems Projects

Recent site upgrades at Ford House will protect and preserve the estate for the future and make its operations more sustainable and eco-friendly.

In additon to new storm-water management and a bridge to Bird Island, the Ford House also completed the following site improvements in 2015. Before the upgrades, many of the systems replaced were original to the house, some 90 years old! 

Initial projects involved replacing and upgrading the aging infrastructure to serve as a foundation for future estate upgrades. The replacements and upgrades are a strong step in making the estate more environmentally responsible.

“The electrical, sewer and irrigation systems were approaching 90 years old, much older than their intended life expectancy,” says project manager Dave Miller. “We have replaced more than 16,000 feet of underground electrical cabling, and we are adding more than 50,000 feet of underground piping, and 1,000 sprinkler heads for the upgraded irrigation system that will also now be a sensor-based system in order to maximize water efficiency. The system will deliver only the amount of water needed to maintain the landscape. Also, to be as environmentally conscious as possible, all underground work was carefully orchestrated by computer controlled boring machines to prevent unnecessary disruption to the property.”

Electrical Upgrades:
• More than 16,000 feet of new cabling has replaced original underground wiring between all historic structures.
• Underground fiber optic technology will be installed to enhance employee-visitor communication and to enable installation of new security technology.
• The underground construction uses a computer controlled boring machines preventing tree damage and unwarranted trenches.
• A new large site transformer will replace the original and a generator is being installed for backup power. The original transformer will be incorporated in house tours providing additional educational opportunities for guests.

Berm Expansion:
• A berm system was constructed in the 1970s to protect the estate from higher-than-average lake levels. Ford House is enhancing the Fords’ plan to protect the estate from floodwaters by expanding the berm system around the perimeter of the property.
• Berm improvements will allow for construction of much-needed operation space in the area adjacent to the current visitor center.
• More than 5,000 cubic yards of dirt from other construction projects around the property is being repurposed to construct the berm.
• Expected completion: Fall 2015

New Irrigation System:
• The current irrigation system is aging, so in order to maintain the magnificent landscape, a new irrigation system is being installed throughout the property.
• We are using a computer-controlled directional drill boring process to install the irrigation lines in order to limit disruptions to the grass surface.
• Like the previous system, the new irrigation system will pull water from Lake St. Clair. Using a state-of-the-art sensor and software system, it will maximize water efficiency by reducing the amount of electricity and water used when watering the plants. New sprinkler heads will also be installed.
• Expected completion: Fall 2015.

Future Projects Under Consideration

Construction of a new administration building: An administrative building will be constructed on the property in order to relocate staff operations from the historic buildings and into a central location allowing for improved operations and greater preservation of the estate.

Aging Landscape Management: The scenery of the Ford House grounds has significantly changed since Jensen’s design more than 80 years ago. In an effort to maintain the design’s purity, diseased trees such as the American elm, a primary tree in the Jensen design, will be replaced with newer disease-resistant versions and landscape elements will be, over time, restored to better align the landscape with the original Jensen design and the Ford Family’s vision.