Preserving a presidential pad in Beaver Creek
Vail CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” The Beaver Creek home where President Gerald Ford vacationed is on the market after a more than $4 million makeover.
A suite where the president’s secret service entourage slept has been transformed into a game room with a pool table.
The study where Ford wrote his autobiography has been refurbished and stocked with memorabilia like the president’s putter and cowboy hat.
And a small room Betty Ford used to wrap gifts in has been refashioned into a massage nook.
Sweeping renovations have modernized every room in the nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion, but owner Kevin Hayes says he took pains to keep the home’s character in tact.
“I wanted to make sure that the home was up to the highest standards that you’d find anywhere in the Vail Valley so that any new family would be able to come in and call it their home and feel very proud of it as their home, while still having these respectful elements of the home’s history,” he said.
Inside Ford’s study, a small section of grooved tile remains in tact. The president had a habit of rocking back and forth in his chair while writing, leaving marks on the floor, Hayes said.
An indoor lap pool where Ford swam twice a day during his younger years also remains on the property.
Listed at $14.9 million, the house has been on the market since Aug. 6. It has the distinction of being among the few ski-in, ski-out homes on Beaver Creek, and the even rarer distinction of being the only former president’s home for sale in the country.
“I think the significance is that the Ford family was really an adopted first family of Vail and they were very generous with their ambassadorship of the Vail Valley,” said Anna Menz, a broker associate with Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate in Bachelor Gulch, which has the listing. “The significance is there is only one presidential home in Beaver Creek.”
During his presidency, Ford took frequent ski vacations in Beaver Creek. He and his wife held frequent dinner parties for friends. Vail resident Sheika Gramshammer said the Fords threw her a birthday party in the dining room one April.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “I was very happy about it.”
Ford bought the roughly 0.8-acre property in 1979 when the ski resort was in its infancy, Hayes said. The house was completed in 1983.
When the Fords put the house on the market nearly a quarter century later, Hayes was among three buyers who made offers. Final details of his contract on the house, which sold for $6.65 million, went through on Dec. 26, 2006. Just a few hours later, Ford passed away. The nation mourned as news spread that the former president had died at age 93 in his Rancho Mirage, Calif., home.
“Every time I tell that story, I really do get choked up,” Hayes said. “I thought I was buying the home of a living president, and I was simply going to preserve it for his heritage later, and he died, and we had to make accommodations for the family to take care of important business for his funeral etc. before we even discussed real estate.”
Although the Fords never flaunted their presidential status through flashy decor, Hayes added some stately touches. A presidential seal embedded in the tile adds a reverential tone to the entryway. A plaque containing a quote by John Adams adorns the fireplace mantle in the master bedroom.
Hayes oversaw an 18-month renovation at the home, which includes new landscaping, wiring and plumbing. Beck Building Company in Avon and Eggers Architecture in Kremmling conducted the overhaul.
Fresh from this facelift, the house has been generating worldwide interest, Menz said. She and Matt Fitzgerald with Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate, have the listing. To market the seven-bedroom home, brokers have held invitation-only receptions, prepared a mailer for Beaver Creek residents and sought publicity from magazines like the Robb Report. In addition to domestic markets, they hope to generate interest overseas.
For Hayes, selling the house will require handing over a historical landmark that has sentimental value.
“I hope that it’s going to be somebody who shares my respect for President Ford, and given the way the home has been redone, I’m virtually certain that it will be somebody who has an equal respect for President and Mrs. Ford,” he said.
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or email@example.com.