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BUILT IN THE 1930s BY HENRY FORD at his winter retreat near Savannah, this former caretaker’s cottage had been abandoned for decades. Historical Concepts consulted on the restoration of the primitive, 800 square foot cottage for clients who were compelled to save it from demolition and preserve Ford’s legacy. We are delighted that it caught the eye of the editors at Garden & Gun and proud to share additional images of the home that did not appear in the magazine.
Home to Henry Ford’s project supervisor and his family, the cottage originally had just four rooms and no kitchen or bathroom. It was heated by the fireplace and, later, a wood stove. In the late 1930s, a kitchen and bath were added, as well as a side porch which most likely sheltered an ice box.
By this time, Henry Ford had amassed nearly 70,000 acres of antebellum rice plantation around Richmond Hill, Georgia and began building a Greek revival style mansion on the banks of the Ogechee River. In the decades that followed, Henry Ford’s winter retreat became the center of social gatherings for prominent families from the Northeast, including the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and DuPonts. Today, The Ford Plantation is a private sporting community under a canopy of 17th century live oak trees. As a new generation of residents began to enjoy Ford’s former retreat, the restoration of its original structures was important to preserving its history.
To honor its humble past, many of the cottage’s materials were preserved. Original poplar tongue and groove walls, heart pine floors and terra cotta roof tiles were restored, while antique lighting and architectural salvage finds were added for period authenticity. A screened porch, designed to complement the home’s historic character, adds entertaining space and a place to enjoy the coastal setting of The Ford Plantation.