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Ford House hopes to add 2 new buildings to site

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

In what would be the “first major alteration to the estate in 25 years,” the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House will be presenting to the Grosse Pointe Shores planning commission a plan to expand its grounds by adding two buildings to “meet the needs of the 21st century visitor.”

The proposal will be made at the planning commission’s Jan. 10 meeting, and call for the construction of a visitor center and administration building, while also upgrading parking at the facility in an “eco-friendly” way.

The new visitor center will be a two-story building with space for enhancing the orientation, education and overall experience for Ford House visitors. Both Cotswold Café (lower level) and the second floor event space with glass walls will overlook Ford Cove.

“The addition of these two buildings is an important step in furthering the vision my grandparents, Eleanor and Edsel, had for their estate,” said Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of the Ford House board of trustees, in a statement. “This phase of the master plan will provide us with the opportunity to interpret the entire home. Continuing their legacy in a sustainable manner is a top priority for the board and for the entire Ford family.”

The Ford House board of directors is not releasing the cost of the project, which will be funded "through traditional financing methods," according to a spokesperson.

The visitor center will occupy 40,000 square feet and stand two stories tall, and will replace the current visitor center. “Planned highlights” of the new space include a “dedicated education wing with two multifunctional classrooms and outdoor classroom space,” “a second-floor event space with glass walls overlooking Ford Cove,” and a lobby.

The new visitor center (right) and administration building (left) are both designed to complement the historic Albert Kahn buildings and Jens Jensen landscape and will demonstrate sustainability best practices.

The 17,000 square foot administration building “will bring all Ford House operations into the same location.” A library will “support ongoing research of Ford family history.” The glass on the building will even be designed in such a way that birds don’t fly into it, to their detriment, believing it to be air.

If all goes according to plan, construction would start next summer. Tours and on-site programs will continue throughout the build out.

The Ford House has been open since 1978 and is at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores.