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Henry Ford Estate Receives $10M from Ford Foundation
4-21-2017

Grant nearly completes first phase of Estate’s fundraising campaign.

The Board of Trustees of Henry Ford Estate – Fair Lane announced that it has received a commitment for a $10 million grant from the Ford Foundation to support its campaign to restore, reinterpret and reopen the former home of Clara and Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

The announcement was made April 21, 2017, by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker to a sold-out room of supporters at the 29TH annual Henry Ford Estate Dinner Dance at the Dearborn Inn.

The Ford Foundation grant is the single largest contribution to the campaign to date, and nearly completes the first phase of the $25 million fundraising goal. The Ford Foundation joins Ford Motor Company Fund, the Ford Family, Ford and Lincoln dealers and many individual contributors in supporting this initiative.

“We are thrilled to support the campaign to restore the Estate so that future generations can learn about and discover the history of the Ford family," said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. "Even as we address issues of inequality in the 21st century as a global organization, it is important to honor the Ford family's foresight and generosity 80 years ago to seed the origins of our capital in Michigan."

“This generous commitment from the Ford Foundation is meaningful for so many reasons,” said Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of Henry Ford Estate, Inc. “Not only will this help in restoring, reinterpreting and reopening Fair Lane to the public; this gesture reinforces the Ford Foundation’s exceptional commitment to Detroit and the surrounding region. We are honored that so many members of the extended Ford ‘family’ have graciously stepped up to support our shared legacy. We look forward to inviting the public back to Fair Lane to experience this inspiring place that my great grandparents called home.”

After Clara Ford’s death in 1950, Ford Motor Company acquired the estate from Ford heirs and used it as an archival center and office space. In 1956 the company donated the home and 210 acres of land to the University of Michigan for the development of the Dearborn campus. The home was used for meetings, events, a restaurant and tours until the University closed it in 2010. In 2013, the Estate became an independent nonprofit when the University transferred ownership of the home and 17 acres of land to the newly established Henry Ford Estate Inc. Plans began immediately for a capital campaign and new vision for the future.v

“Our goal with this restoration has been to really understand the home that Clara and Henry Ford built. And then to take it back so if they were to walk in the door, they’d say ‘We’re home,’” said Kathleen Mullins, president and CEO, Henry Ford Estate, Inc. “We have fixed leaky roofs and collapsing foundations, and shored up the riverbank to make the estate secure. We are now investing in restoring the rooms inside the estate to how they looked and felt in 1919. We will then create a visitor experience like no other historic estate has done before; one that provides fertile ground for creativity, experimentation, dialog and action.”

With the Ford Foundation grant, the first phase of the campaign has raised more than $24 million of the $25 million goal. The first 10 percent of all funds raised will be placed into an endowment to help ensure Fair Lane is operated in a sound and sustainable manner. The remaining funds are supporting repair of structural and life-safety issues and restoration, furnishing and interpretation of all of the rooms on the main floor of the home. Funds are also going toward development of the future visitor experience, which will not only provide a look at the history of the Ford family home, it will also allow visitors to become participants in discussions that explore how Henry and Clara’s visionary thinking transformed and empowered a nation.

The Estate will be open for a special Preservation Day Open House on May 13 for the public to view the restoration progress and learn more about future plans. Admission is by prepurchased ticket; number of tickets are limited. For more information visit www.henryfordestate.org/news.

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(Pictured: Above, the historical photo shows Henry and Clara Ford walking along the river at their Fair Lane home in Dearborn, Mich. Below, Michael Purser of the Rosebud Company works on restoring the Main Hall staircase at the Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane in Dearborn, Mich. Credit: John F. Martin Photography for Henry Ford Estate.)

About Henry Ford Estate

Henry and Clara Ford built the 31,000-square-foot Fair Lane as their dream home on 1,300 acres, just a couple miles from where they both were born. At a time when Henry was skyrocketing to global fame after the success of Ford Motor Company and the Model T, Fair Lane was their sanctuary. The estate along the Rouge River included a hydro-electric powerhouse and dam, a greenhouse, a working farm built to scale for their grandchildren, an indoor pool, skating house, staff cottages, bowling alley, and a pony barn, as well as a private garage and laboratory for Henry.

After Clara Ford’s death in 1950, Ford Motor Company acquired the estate from Ford heirs and used it as an archival center and office space. In 1956, the company donated the home and 210 acres of land to the University of Michigan for the development of the Dearborn campus. The home was used for meetings, events, a restaurant and tours until the University closed it in 2010. In 2013, the Estate became an independent nonprofit when the University transferred ownership of the home and 17 acres of land to the newly established Henry Ford Estate Inc. For more information on this Henry Ford Estate – Fair Lane, visitwww.henryfordestate.org.