Ford family to renovate Fair Lane estate

April 19, 2010 at 2:51 PM
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DETROIT, April 19 (UPI) -- The Ford family is regaining oversight of its Fair Lane estate from the University of Michigan and will spend millions fixing it up, officials say.

The National Historic Landmark, which was home to auto pioneer Henry Ford for three decades, had turned into a financial burden for the school.

The Ford family gave up direct ownership of the estate on UM's Dearborn campus in the 1950s and it has been used in recent years for tours, meetings and weddings. Edsel Ford II announced this past weekend it will be closed next year and reopened partially to the public in 2013, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.

Ken Kettenbeil, UM-Dearborn's director of communications, says Fair Lane needs at least $12 million in renovations. He said the university would have to re-evaluate its core mission of teaching and research if it were to take on that effort.

University regents signed a memorandum of understanding last Thursday that indicated ownership will be transferred to the family-run board that oversees the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe, Mich., in July 2011, the Free Press said.

The Detroit News reported Ann Fitzpatrick, vice president of communications for the Ford House, said the decision to accept responsibility for the historic estate "is all a part of a larger strategic plan."

"Visitors will be able to be offered a more comprehensive story, and there will be a real continuity between the two sites and a deeper experience," she said. "We're making sure the story can be told for many years to come."

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