Blending past with progress at former home of Gerald Ford


When Tim and Helen Lloyd purchased the Gerald Ford home on Crown View Drive last June, they had two goals in mind.

They were determined to preserve the authentic atmosphere of this National Historic Landmark, thus showing the spirit of Memorial Day. At the same time, they wanted to create a more convenient and comfortable living space, taking full advantage of current trends. 

Many other Alexandria homebuyers have faced that same dilemma. Marc Leon, of FSI Renovations in Alexandria, helped the Lloyds to overcome it. 

Lighter and brighter

Since the kitchen has seen the most changes over the years, the project was focused there. Helen Lloyd recalls her real estate agent, Amanda Jordan of RE/MAX Allegiance, encouraging the purchase by telling her how that crucial area could be updated.

Living in the house from 1955 to 1974, when Ford succeeded to the presidency, the future First Family designed a kitchen that reflected the eras home fashions. It featured knotty pine walls plus a brick wall framing the entrance to Fords study.

It was a dark galley kitchen that was really like a tunnel, Lloyd recalls. They entered it by going through the path created by the stove and refrigerator on either side. 

In keeping with the modern concept that the kitchen is the heart of the home, it is now open to both the rear study-turned-sunroom and the front parlor. The brick wall frames the kitchen pass-through. The white-paneled study walls harmonize with the kitchen cabinets and the studys original built-in bookshelves are still in place. 

The Lloyd family, as did the Fords, have three sons. Lloyd says that her boys are able to enjoy the modern design, because it means that Mum is always nearby.

The kitchen is also literally lighter and brighter, because the knotty pine has been replaced by white paneled cabinets and a luminous turquoise tile floor that echoes the white-and-turquoise mosaic tile backsplash. 

Stainless-steel appliances and expansive granite counters also help create a contemporary kitchen. The area also gained three feet of space, while sacrificing only the laundry chute in return.

Souvenir display

The kitchen color scheme blends with the lighter turquoise walls of the adjoining living room with an original brick fireplace. The walls are decorated by framed Ford mementoes that had fallen behind the cabinets, including a postcard to Jack Ford. These are ultimately destined for the Ford Presidential Museum. 

The original hardwood floors continue through the two upper stories, while the lower level preserves the carpeting and brick fireplace of the Fords recreation room. The baths still show the original timeless small tiles.

In the second-story master suite, Lloyd deliberately tried to preserve the 60s spirit, with a giant flower power mural of pink and yellow against the brown walls.

But the most altered site of all might be the room that the Secret Service occupied during Fords vice presidency. It is now the childrens playroom.

Family gathering

Compared to most other Alexandria homeowners who have acquired historic properties, the Lloyds have one great advantage. They are able to talk with the celebrated former owners. 

Lloyd says the Fords have encouraged the project because they are very happy to have a family living here that reflects their own, and they had no problem with the house being updated. 

Their only regret, she reports, is that the Lloyds could not preserve the pool in which Gerald Ford had enjoyed swimming.

Basically, the two families chose the house with the same goal in mind. 

As Lloyd put it, The First Family designed it as a family home, and the place was beautifully designed for a family. We decided when we bought it that we had a great responsibility to keep that feeling intact. We wanted to keep it as it was while also updating it because I felt that we were not really buying it, but rather renting it. 

It is really part of history.