By Edward Cardenas
GROSSE POINTE SHORES (CBS Detroit) – The majestic Edsel & Eleanor Ford House has stood on the shores of Lake St. Clair for nearly 90 years and both the Jens Jensen-designed grounds and Albert Kahn-designed estate were in of a some upgrades and enhancements.
Crews spent the winter improving the irrigation and electrical systems, along with the natural features of the 87-acre estate, that was once home Edsel and Eleanor Ford and their family.
“The landscape of this magnificent estate has matured at the same time that the infrastructure has aged,” said Kathleen Mullins, president and CEO of the Ford House, in a release. “As we plan for the future, we are taking this opportunity to replace aging systems with state-of-the-art, more efficient, systems, and to restore the landscape to the period when Eleanor and Edsel called the estate home.”
This is the first phase of an ongoing effort to “restore, reconstruct, and rehabilitate,” the historical estate. It was also done with an eye to have a minimal impact on the daily operation of Ford House, with hosts tours, family activities, lectures and events throughout the year.
“Since the original construction the electrical system has remained the same,” said Karl Koto, Ford House director of landscaping. “That system … really needed an upgrade.”
Crews used computer controlled, underground boring machines to replace more than 16,000 feet of underground electrical cabling, and added more than 50,000 feet of underground piping and 1,000 sprinkler heads for the upgraded irrigation system.
The new system is sensor-based system, to maximize water efficiency and deliver only the amount of water needed to maintain the landscape.
A number of efforts were also undertaken to improve the ecological features of the grounds including:
- A new bridge was also built to connect Bird Island to the mainland after opening a channel between Lake St. Clair and Ford Cove. This allows for the water to circulate in the cove, and which has improved the water quality and reportedly attracted new wildlife to the inlet off Lake St. Clair.
- A small wooded lot near Ford Cove has been transformed into the termination point for 2,400 linear feet of newly laid pipe which drains all the storm water management for 38-acres of the property – which includes parking lots and buildings – into a 30-foot deep wet well. The storm water is then pumped into a bio-swale, which naturally filters out the oils and greases, and sediment before being pumped into Ford Cove. Koto stated the bio-swale is intended to make “The water that leaves our site cleaner than the water in Ford Cove.” Nearly 400 trees and shrubs were also planted on the lot and trail leading to the new bridge to Bird Island.
To celebrate the progress, the estate is hosting a free evening on the grounds for the public from 5 – 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 8.