The White House was not yet ready for Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. and his family when he became president following Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
So Ford spent the first 10 days of his presidency at the family home in Alexandria, Va. Ford and his family spent about 20 years in the colonial-style brick and wood-siding home on Crown View Drive in Alexandria. The Fords were the first owners of the home, which was built in 1953 and is now up for sale. The property has a list price of $999,000.
Joan Dixon, who decades ago met Ford while working for congressmen on Capitol Hill, is now a real estate agent who is representing the current owner in the sale of the historic Ford family home.
Dixon said there has been some media attention focused on the home with the news of Ford’s death this week. Ford, 93, died Tuesday — he survived military service during World War II and two assassination attempts in 1975, and was the longest-lived U.S. president. Ford married Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Bloomer Warren Ford in October 1948. Betty Ford is 88.
The family home was designated as a historic landmark by the National Park Service in 1985, Dixon said. The Fords added “a gigantic swimming pool in the back” during their time at the home, she said. “He loved to swim laps.”
Ford is regarded as one of the most athletic U.S. presidents — he was a center for the University of Michigan football team and turned down contract offers from National Football League teams in favor of a coaching job at Yale.
His presidency was marked by the pardon of Richard Nixon and the final withdrawal of U.S. personnel from Vietnam. He lost a presidential election bid in 1976 to Jimmy Carter.
Ford earned a law degree at Yale and started up a law practice in Michigan in 1941. Ford enlisted in the U.S. Navy following the Pearl Harbor attack and served as assistant navigator, athletic officer and anti-aircraft battery officer aboard the USS Monterey, an aircraft carrier.
A room that was initially a garage in the Ford family home has been converted to a large family room, Dixon said. “It housed the Secret Service when he was vice president.” After serving as a Michigan congressman from 1949-73, Ford was catapulted into the vice presidency with the resignation of Spiro Theodore Agnew in October 1973.
Agnew left the post after he was charged with tax evasion. Ford became the first vice president to be appointed to that position.
The Fords’ home has changed hands twice, and the current owner bought the property in 1998 and has since rented it out, Dixon said. “Former Secretary of State Jim Baker’s son lived there with his wife and child … they are the most recent tenants,” she said.
Before they moved into the home, the Fords had lived in an apartment on Mount Eagle Place in Alexandria. Ford was born in Omaha, Neb., in 1913 and moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., that year. Ford lived in the Grand Rapids area for several decades until he moved to the Washington, D.C, area in the early 1950s. The Fords had most recently been living at their home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Dixon said the real estate market has been slow in many parts of the Washington, D.C., area. “Houses stay on the market longer — some sell but many don’t,” she said. There have been a couple of verbal offers to purchase the Ford family home, she said, though the offers were not acceptable to the owner.
While Ford’s death has attracted some “curiosity seekers” to the Fords’ historic home, Dixon said she is hopeful that the new attention will also lead to some solid offers. The next open-house event for the property will be held Sunday, Jan. 7, Dixon said.
The three-level home has four bedrooms, two full bathrooms, three half-bathrooms, 3,537 square feet of space, and sits on a 0.22-acre lot. There is pinewood paneling in the kitchen, she said, and hardwood floors throughout.
A dining area overlooks the patio and pool. The home also features built-in bookcases and a laundry chute. “Not much has been changed since (the Fords) left,” Dixon said.
She said she expects the historic status of the property to add value, adding, “As to how much — I guess the market will tell us.”
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