GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich. – Ford House, the historic estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford, will be open to the public May 26, showcasing its first major expansion in over 90 years— a 40,000 square-foot Visitor Center and 17,000 square-foot Administration Building.
The state-of-the-art Visitor Center will bring a new restaurant, four event spaces, exhibition spaces, expanded program offerings and breathtaking views of Ford Cove. The Ford family’s legacy will never change, but this expansion project has allowed Ford House to convey the history of one of America and Detroit’s most renowned families in an interactive and immersive style.
The Visitor Center and Administration Building were designed to be net-zero energy efficient, with great care to emphasize sustainability and the surrounding natural ecosystem. The buildings will enhance the visitor experience and allow the National Historic Landmark estate to plan and pursue long-term restoration and rehabilitation projects.
“Our goal is to weave together the Ford family legacy with 21st century technology,” said Ford House President & CEO Mark J. Heppner. “This milestone expansion project was designed with the visitor experience top of mind. The brand-new, state of the art Visitor Center is our commitment that Ford House will always be an inclusive community destination.”
Starting May 26 through May 29, visitors are invited to participate in an Open House to see both buildings, explore the grounds and gardens, and enjoy fun activities to celebrate the expansion. Adult admission for the open house event will be $5 and includes access to the inaugural exhibitions, grounds and gardens. Ford House members will receive exclusive access the weekend before, May 21-23, with free admission. Purchase tickets here
The Visitor Center will open with three exhibitions—an orientation gallery and two rotating exhibitions. The Ford Family Story is a permanent exhibition that introduces visitors to Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s estate, demonstrates how the Fords built a life and home that paid tribute to the property’s natural environment, the arts and interior design. Equipped with multiple interactive displays including a virtual scrapbook and projected home movies, the exhibit shares intimate moments throughout the Fords’ lives on the estate.
Driven by Design, the Visitor Center’s first rotating exhibition, will feature three rare vehicles that have never been showcased together – the world’s only 1939 Lincoln Continental prototype, the 1932 Ford Model 18 Speedster and 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster – to tell the story of Edsel Ford’s role in bringing elegant automotive design to Ford Motor Company. The second traveling exhibition, located in the education wing, will feature artwork from the community.
The Future of Movement will be the inaugural display, showcasing the next wave of ingenuity and mobility-forward automotive designs from College for Creative Studies students. This exhibition space was designed to rotate offerings on a regular basis; therefore, visitors will only be able to experience The Future of Movement until August 2021.
“My grandparents, Eleanor and Edsel, placed such a high value on hospitality, making guests feel welcome in their home. Adding new amenities to the Ford House experience in the form of the Visitor Center extends that hospitality to everyone who visits the estate today,” said Lynn Ford Alandt, chairperson of the Ford House board of trustees. “And in the new exhibits, you can hear the family’s stories in a personal way. It’s a lovely celebration of who they were and their legacy.”
The Visitor Center offers four event spaces and three meeting rooms, all equipped with the latest technology and completely adaptable to accommodate your business meeting, social gathering or workshops. The two signature private event spaces, the Lake Shore Room and the St. Clair Room, have sweeping views of Ford Cove and Lake St. Clair from the Visitor Center ’s second floor. Both rooms open to a balcony or patio, allowing for outdoor entertainment. To meet the needs of the business community, the Visitor Center also offers three conference rooms that can be rented for break-out sessions or committee meetings.
The center’s education wing is home to Ford House’s expanded programming and perfect for hosting workshops or classes. There are two designated indoor spaces, The Jensen and The Kahn Rooms, with access to a tented patio. These rooms can be rented separately or combined to create a larger space. Following the opening week events, Ford House will kick off the summer 2021 season with a variety of activities including a live concert series, classes, workshops, lectures, picnics, yard games, the EyesOn Design Car Show and many more.
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Jaymi Gittens, Van Dyke Horn