Fair Lane gets $10 million from Ford Foundation

Michael H. Hodges, Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

The campaign to restore Henry and Clara Ford’s Dearborn estate, Fair Lane, will get a $10 million boost from the Ford Foundation in New York, officials announced Friday evening.

Darren Walker, Ford Foundation president, delivered the good news to a sold-out room of supporters at the 29th annual Henry Ford Estate Dinner Dance at the Dearborn Inn.

“Not only will this help in restoring, reinterpreting and reopening Fair Lane to the public,” said Edsel B. Ford II, charman of Henry Ford Estate Inc., in a release, “this gesture reinforces the Ford Foundation’s exceptional commitment to Detroit and the surrounding region.”

The $10 million contribution is the largest the campaign has won to date, and it nearly completes the first phase of the $25 million fundraising goal. Also supporting the fundraising drive are the Ford Motor Co. Fund, the Ford family, and metro-area Lincoln and Ford dealers.

Henry and Clara Ford’s Dearborn estate, Fair Lane, will get a $10 million boost from the Ford Foundation in New York.

Fair Lane was built on the banks of the Rouge River in 1915 by architects Willam H. Van Tine and Joseph Nathaniel French. After Clara Ford’s death in 1950, the estate was bought by Ford Motor Co. and used as an archival center and offices.

In 1956, the company donated the house and 210 acres to the University of Michigan for its Dearborn campus. In 2013, the university transferred ownership of the house and 17 acres to the newly established nonprofit, Henry Ford Estate Inc.

At the time, the house needed a lot of work, including fixing leaky roofs, crumbling foundations, and a collapsing riverbank, Kathleen S. Mullins, estate president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

The goal, she said is to invest “in restoring the the rooms inside to how they looked and felt in 1919.”

The estate will be open for a special Preservation Day Open House on May 13, when the public can examine the progress so far. Tickets must be bought in advance and are limited in number.

Preservation Day Open House

Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane, 1 Fair Lane Dr., Dearborn

10 a.m. - 6 p.m., May 13

Tickets: $10, advance sales only