The Ford House

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

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All cleaned up - and the place to go!
Posted: February 26, 2014

GROSSE POINTE SHORES – From the floral plaster-molded ceiling in the Main Hall to the 16th century oak paneling in the Gallery, Edsel and Eleanor Ford carefully chose their home’s details during its construction in the late 1920s.
 
And, to preserve the Fords’ legacy, the Ford House staff wants to make sure that this 1929 English-style mansion – and family home – is as breathtaking today as it was 85 years ago.
 
Although the house is cleaned regularly, the annual “spring cleaning” is a way to keep Edsel and Eleanor’s furnishings and art collection well-preserved, and Ford House looking its best. 
 
After a month-long hiatus for cleaning and light restoration, Ford House Tours resume at noon Saturday.
 
Guests will notice the stone walls of the Cloister, the hallway between the Gallery and Drawing Room,  are a little brighter – thanks to the skilled craftsmen at the Michigan-based National Restoration company, whose portfolio includes the 1848 Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse and the 1926 University of Detroit Mercy Clocktower.
 
Using a non-acidic thick solution, National Restoration’s Josh Fletcher applied it generously by paint brush the limestone walls and sandstone window casings. Within hours, the dirt could be seen absorbing into the white-coated area. “These walls have been washed, but never deep cleaned. There is 80-plus years of build-up. To allow a maximum amount of dirt to be extracted, we let this set for 48 hours. And then we peel away.”
 
 
In the Library, the Collections team used a natural bristle brush and a Nilfisk vacuum to dust hundreds of books.
 
The trick to book cleaning is to push the dust toward the vacuum hose. That way the dust disappears without having to use any cleaning products of the fragile books, explained Ford House Collections Care Specialist Carol Zagorowska about this annual task.
 
 
Another historic book handling tip is to refrain from opening the books. But, if you must peek inside, don't open it all the way. "It damages the book's spine. And no one, books or otherwise, wants to have a bad back," Zagorowska said. Take a look at the meticulous process the team uses here.
 
Elsewhere in the house, paint preservationists repaired plaster and touched up paint in the Cloister, Library and Main Hall. And floors in the Drawing Room and Staff Quarters were waxed.
 
One of the most exciting preservation projects was the restoration of the Fords’ Aeolian organ console.
 
Vice President of Historic Resources Mark Heppner said the circa 1920 organ is being returned to its original location, the Drawing Room closet, after nearly 40 years.
 
"It was removed when the home opened to the public and the women’s restroom was expanded in the late 1970s. Since its removal, this beautiful piece has been stored in the basement, and - with nearly all basements - moisture is a concern," Heppner said. "(Conservator) Mark Gervasi has been working to clean and prepare the console for the past month."
 
On March 4, the organ, along with its foot pedals and bench, will be returned to the Drawing Room and on display for visitors to see while touring.
 
For more information on conservation and preservation projects, periodically check the news section of the Ford House website.

 

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