Director of Historic Preservation Rebecca Torsell gives an update on the estate's work to bring the pool and lagoon back to life.

Ford House is in the process of restoring one of the most pivotal features on the estate: the Jens Jensen designed pool and lagoon.  We’re making a splash and diving right in—literally!

One very important feature needed to be recreated as part of this process: the diving board!  Ford House staff undertook extensive research utilizing the Ford Legacy Center Archives and the Benson Ford Research Center (Henry Ford) to gather information on the historic boards of the Ford family.

When the pool was completed in 1928, a wooden diving board was installed.  As one might imagine, a wooden board outdoors combined with playful children warranted frequent board replacement.  Ford House staff reviewed four different historic boards that were installed up to the mid to late 1930s.

Ford House settled on the 1936 diving board design by A.G. Spalding. This board was chosen as it was representative of the time period for interpretation and could accurately be replicated by using original historic shop drawings and invoice documentation detailing the dimensions, materials and fastener systems.

Research revealed the 1936 diving board was constructed of Douglas Fir and was adorned with cocoa matting and lacing.  Ford House decided to replicate the board as accurately as possible according to the archived drawings and details.

One of the first steps Ford House took after agreeing on which board to replicate was to contact the designer A.G. Spalding for their permission to recreate the board using the company’s design.  Although Spalding no longer makes diving boards, it was an important step in moving forward with the recreation.  Once Spalding signed off on the replication, Ford House had a new challenge—finding a vendor who was capable of not just making a wooden diving board but accurately recreating the 1936 board.

Ford House staff searched far and wide and finally had success with a vendor from Belgium: Mikel Tube of Mikel Tube Wooden Diving Boards.  Lengthy discussion ensured the new board would be an accurate replication of the 1936 board.

The replica board will greatly contribute to the accuracy of historic interpretation for the pool for the mid to late 1930s time period of interpretation.

This is a very exciting time for Ford House as we look to enhance the historic interpretation of the estate with our largest restoration effort yet. The creation of the board will soon be underway and is expected to be completed and delivered by December of 2022.