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Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane: Roof Project, 2015

Scaffolding has been a fixture at the Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane all summer, and many have wondered just what has been going on up there? Work is nearly complete repairing and restoring the three flat roofs – waterproofing and securing the roofs, as well as bringing back the original beauty of the tile work.

Flat roofs were common when the Fords built their home 100 years ago, but they are troublesome to maintain. Water damage in areas like the Sun Porch indicates this has been an ongoing issue – and likely Clara and Henry Ford had to deal with leaks in their time at Fair Lane, as well

The project team worked hard to match the original tiles, and even used the same clay tile maker, Ludowici, as the Fords. But unlike the Fords, we have the benefit of new technology that will alert staff should the new roof be compromised. Sensors will pinpoint which areas need work, so that the entire roof need not be replaced in case of water damage. That’s a great example of how new technology can be used to restore and protect a century-old home!

These structural changes are necessary so that we can begin work to restore and re-imagine the interior spaces. The next big step will be restoring the existing finishes and recreating furnishings, textiles and the objects that adorned the rooms when Clara and Henry lived there, as well as developing experiences to bring the public back to Fair Lane.