In celebration of Clara Ford’s 150th birthday, the Richmond Hill Historical Society will host a fundraiser on April 23.
It will include a tour of the Ford Plantation and other buildings in Richmond Hill that were built or restored by the Fords; an evening gala and an opportunity for an overnight stay at the Fords’ winter mansion. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization’s Preservation Fund.
Business sponsorships are available.
“These events will offer a rare opportunity to gaze behind the gates of the Ford estate, which is normally closed to the public,” society President Christy Sherman said. “Fortunately, the historic Ford mansion has been restored and is in good hands with the current owners, but there are other local historic sites in need of help. Proceeds from this event will help the Historical Society with our efforts to preserve and interpret our history.”
• Plantation tour, 2-4 p.m.
Ride a trolley through the Ford Plantation, formerly Henry and Clara Ford’s winter estate. Guests will tour the Fords’ home, Richmond Hill Plantation, as well as the historic oyster house and yacht basin. Meet at the Richmond Hill History Museum, 11460 Ford Ave. at 2 Cost: $35.
• “Henry Ford’s Southern Town” tour, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The other trolley tour highlights “Henry Ford’s Southern Town,” including stops at the Ford Plantation, Richmond Hill History Museum and Fort McAllister. Other sites, including some on the Coastal Bryan Heritage Trail, will showcase Ford-era sites including the courthouse, Martha-Mary Chapel, community house, employee housing, plantation office, bakery, commissary, kindergarten, original site of George Washington Carver School and more. A boxed lunch will be served at Fort McAllister. Cost: $65.
• Gala at the Mansion, 5-9 p.m.
This one-time event will provide an elegant evening reminiscent of the Fords’ parties at their winter estate and grounds. Guests will be treated to a cocktail hour, followed by heavy hors d’oeuvres and entertainment from The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra. Tickets are limited. Cost: $125. Cocktail attire.
• Overnight packages, April 23-24, 2016
The society is offering packages that include the tours, gala, an overnight stay in various rooms in the Ford Plantation and breakfast the following morning for two. Built in 1936, this mansion is a re-creation of the Hermitage Plantation in Savannah. The Fords purchased the Hermitage, dismantled it, and rebuilt it using the original Savannah Gray bricks. Costs range from $1,000 to $1,200.
Henry and Clara Ford arrived in Ways Station in 1925 and purchased land to build a winter residence. They also built a courthouse, church, schools, community center, sawmill, bakery, commissary, clinic and more. In 1941, the town’s name was changed to Richmond Hill in honor of the Fords.
Clara Ford was born on April 11, 1866, and grew up north of Detroit. Henry Ford, who met Clara at a New Year’s dance in 1885 and married her in 1888, nicknamed her his “great believer.” They had one son, Edsel, who ran Ford Motor Company until 1943.