RICHMOND HILL — The Ford Plantation luxury community and private sporting club recently began renovations to automobile magnate Henry Ford's historic winter mansion.
With its stately white columns and Savannah gray brick exterior, this Greek Revival-style mansion overlooking the Ogeechee River now serves as the community's Main House.
"Our goal is to return the Ford home to its original elegance, but to keep in mind that it's no longer a private residence," said Wendy Dayton, a Ford Plantation member who serves as chairman of the Main House committee. "The house provides a stunning setting for weddings and special dinners."
Renovations to the riverfront structure include refinishing all the original pine floors, repairing water damage to plaster surfaces, interior painting, electrical updating, furniture restoration and historically appropriate interior design. Katie Sidenberg, of Robert Sidenberg Interiors in Minneapolis, is overseeing the design, which includes period antiques that evoke the Ford era. Asian-inspired patterns adorn the new draperies while exquisite rugs and elegant upholstery incorporate soft green, gold and yellow pastels.
"The interiors will be very light in feeling and very gracious," Dayton said. "We're thrilled with the progress so far."
Originally granted by King George II of England in 1750, the 1,800 acres at the Ford Plantation boast a The site of a Revolutionary War battle, the land served as part of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's legendary March to the Sea during the Civil War.
A former antebellum rice plantation owned by Savannah mayor John Habersham, the live oak canopy at The Ford Plantation so enchanted Henry Ford that he and his wife, Clara, built a winter retreat along the shores of the Ogeechee River in the 1920s. Over the years, the Fords hosted illustrious visitors like Thomas Edison, John Burroughs and Harvey Firestone at their historic riverfront mansion.
Following this tradition, dinner parties and special events at The Ford Plantation's main house continue today. The community hosts wine suppers, family reunions, oyster roasts, wedding parties and romantic dinners on a regular basis at the home.
The Ford Plantation will officially unveil the newly renovated Main House with an invitational black tie event and ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Oct. 23. The unveiling will be part of homecoming weekend, an annual tradition at The Ford Plantation featuring an oyster roast, cocktails, dinner and dancing.
"The Main House is a true architectural treasure that serves as the heart and soul of The Ford Plantation," Dayton said. "We're delighted that the renovations are underway and can't wait to see the final results in October."