President Ford in Clover

Article written by CCPCA member Helen Lloyd

President Ford’s Connection to the Neighborhood

In June 2009, our family bought the house at 514 Crown View Drive that formerly belonged to President Gerald R. Ford Jr.. It was in a terrible state, and the asking price had fallen dramatically over the three years that it had been on and off the market. Ever since the Fords moved out in 1974 after living in the house for twenty years it had consistently been a rental property, and one, that even when up for sale, no one had wanted to buy.

While keeping an eye not to destroy all of the history of the house we immediately replaced the kitchen with something modern. When we took out the units we found a pass to congress signed by Gerald Ford – then a Congressman, a pass for the Senate signed by Everett Dirksen – then minority leader, a clip from the Alexandria Gazette from 1961 in which Betty Ford had been highlighted as a local fashion icon, a postcard to one of the sons from his first girlfriend, a patterned dish and a couple of passport pictures of one of the boys. This started us probing more deeply into the hidden history of the house. The knotty pine kitchen units had Grand Rapids inscribed in the metal hinges. The basement window covers have eagles embossed into them. The basement floor still has the games painted on it that were designed to entertain the Ford’s children. In the loft we still have the wiring for the phone line that went straight to the White House and also up there were the fire irons seen in photos of the Fords living room, which we still use today. Through newspaper clippings and photographs taken by neighbors in the 1960s and 1970s we have an even clearer idea of how the Fords lived in this house. I feel honored that in writing this history I had the unmatched help of Susan Ford-Bales and Betty Ford before her death in July 2011. Mrs. Ford’s camellias still live on today!

  1. Connection to the Neighborhood
  2. Clover’s Impact
  3. The House
  4. Life in the Neighborhood
  5. Life in the House
  6. Political Decisions
  7. Leaving Clover and Lasting Legacy