Building a New Foundation
When the Powerhouse was constructed in 1914, it was a rare engineering and architectural feat. It included a hydroelectric power plant that provided power to the estate. It also contained sophisticated water filtration and boiler systems. Even with the greatest technology in place, these systems have a lifespan, often accelerated by Mother Nature.
The Garage Courtyard was a bricked area used to accommodate the entering and exiting of automobiles. Constructed of concrete, sand and a top layer of brick pavers, time has witnessed the movement of the sand foundation - resulting in several collapsed areas.
The Lower Courtyard originally contained two storage tanks for automobile fuel. The tanks have been removed and the Courtyard is being reconstructed.
Both Courtyards are being reconstructed to ensure stability, visitor safety and to authentically recreate the appearance of these important service areas.
The Power of Water
Although water played an important role in the original siting of the estate, it has become the estate's worst enemy. Many of the current issues that must be addressed to preserve the buildings and their interiors for future generations have been caused by water infiltration. Many of the original water drainage lines have been replaced to ensure proper drainage and water removal.
The flat roof of the Powerhouse has experienced ongoing water infiltration issues and a new roofing system is being installed.
Restoration in Action
In 2014, Quinn Evans Architects, SmithGroupJJR and Henry Ford Estate staff conducted research and developed plans to restore aspects of the Powerhouse area to improve the visitor experience and provide much needed protection from water damage. Major components include:
- Installation of new underground storm water, sanitary and potable water lines
- Replacement of missing or damaged copper gutters and downspouts
- Reconstruction of Powerhouse flat roof and decorative wood trellis
- Rebuilding of failed external stone retaining walls and brick courtyards
- Reconstruction of external stairways and metal safety railing at multiple locations.
Work started in early 2015 and is scheduled to be concluded by the end of 2015.