Ford House to reopen in phases, starting with members June 16
Posted: June 15, 2020
After being closed for months, Ford House, the historic estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford, will open its gates to welcome back its members to walk the beautiful lakeside grounds and gardens beginning Tuesday, June 16.
A wider reopening for the general public is anticipated in July, but an official date has not been set. Ford House closed its gates to visitors March 11 to help limit the spread of COVID-19, coinciding with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s declaration of a state of emergency and Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
The members-only reopening gets the ball rolling on the museum’s phased approach toward reinstating regular visitation, tours and onsite events. Beginning with only members allows the estate to limit daily visitor capacity, part of a detailed plan to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff.
All visitors must register in advance for a timed entry ticket. Member admission is still free, but tickets are required for admittance. Visitors are also required to practice social distancing and keep a face mask with them at all times while on the estate. All historical buildings, the Visitor Center and Museum Store are closed, and house tours are suspended at this time. Restrooms near the Gate Lodge are open for visitor use, but visitors must wear masks inside and wash their hands.
“We have taken great care to make sure our visitors and staff are comfortable, safe and protected at the estate,” Ford House President & CEO Mark Heppner said. “More than ever, we are pleased to open our gates and provide a place where our visitors can take some much-needed time to unwind, take a walk and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere at Ford House.”
To accompany a visit to the estate -- or to explore from home -- Ford House has launched a new mobile app with stop-by-stop tours around the Ford House grounds and for a virtual look inside the Fords’ Main Residence. The app is available at www.fordhouse.org and through the App Store. Visitors also can download or print a map and guide to bring along.
Employees at Ford House are also supporting precautionary measures at the estate. All staff are required to follow strict social distancing guidelines, wear masks when near others, and follow new rules regarding cleaning and disinfecting shared areas. A limited number of staff are permitted to work onsite each day, and the remaining staff will continue to work remotely. The majority of Ford House staff have been working from home since mid-March.
Most of Ford House’s onsite special events have been canceled or postponed through the end of July.
DSO at Ford House -- one of the estate’s major annual events held annually in July, an outdoor concert and fireworks featuring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra -- has been canceled this year due to the state of Michigan’s regulations on large gatherings. However, the DSO and Ford House are exploring possibilities for partnerships later this summer.
The annual EyesOn Design Car Show will become a Father’s Day Sunday Drive and photo opportunity on June 21. Registration for the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmaology’s annual event is full, and only registered, confirmed vehicles may enter the estate. Members may walk the grounds starting at 8 a.m. with last entry at 10 a.m. The estate closes to members at noon. There will be no other public access to the estate that day. Visit www.eyesondesign.org for more information.
There are still plenty of opportunities to experience Ford House at home. The estate is offering virtual public programs, workshops and lectures. Gardening workshops, Starry Nights lectures, book-club-style discussions and even a cocktail mixing workshop are slated for the coming weeks using the Zoom platform. Kids can design their own bird feeder, create a Lake St. Clair alphabet book, and more with free activities on fordhouse.org, and enjoy a weekly virtual storytime from Josephine Ford’s kid-sized Playhouse.
“We deeply appreciate the flexibility and cooperation of all our visitors at this time, and we’re so happy we can welcome back members,” Ford House Director of Visitor Experience Amanda Rutland said. “It won’t be too long until we’re all back on the estate, and we can enjoy events and programs in person. We hope you’ll join us in the meantime for some of the great virtual events and programs our team has put together.”
The pandemic has caused some delays in the construction of Ford House’s new Visitor Center and Administration Building, which will boast a new restaurant, exhibits, classrooms, lakeview rental space and more. The buildings were projected to open in late fall 2020, but the timeline has shifted. Construction crews resumed work in May with measures in place to protect workers’ health and well-being. A new opening date has not been determined yet.
For any questions about Ford House’s reopening, health and safety guidelines, upcoming events and more, visit www.fordhouse.org/experience or contact email@example.com.
GET THE NEW MOBILE APP - stop-by-stop tours