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Gathering d'Elegance 2023

On Saturday, April 29th, with a bit of a misty start to the day, fifty-six people driving thirty-one cars arrived in Gross Pointe Shores at The Ford House. The Ford House had a large section of their Lot 2 parking area reserved for us. I was initially disappointed that they did not have a grassy scenic area available for our cars, but given the several days of rain preceding our event, that morning I was very happy to have terra firma for our cars.

With three shuttle buses in service to move us over to the main residence for our docent lead tour, it was an easy start to the day. They had four docents to take our group through the 30,000-square-foot mansion. The mansion’s construction was started in 1926 and finished in 1928. Artisans from France, Germany, and Italy worked 24/7 to complete the work in just two years. Attention to detail was evident wherever you looked.

Our docent, Danila, who has worked for The Ford House for twenty-two years, was a walking encyclopedia of all things pertaining to the mansion and the Ford family who lived there. During our tour, many things struck me, but the mixture of ‘30s era Art Deco along with the majority of traditional English furnishings was the most unexpected. The other thing that I found most fascinating was the gentleman’s room with paneling that dated back to 1585 that was recovered from a building in England. The room also had two hidden doors that would lead one to the basement and an underground tunnel leading to safety in the power plant some 150 feet from the mansion. They did keep a get-a-way car parked in the power plant, just in case.

After the tour, and another shuttle ride back to the visitor center, we had an enjoyable buffet luncheon at their new Continental dining room. The food and service were top-notch as expected from this venue. With such a large group there were many tables in use and conversations galore. There were new members present as well as long-standing members. We even picked up a T-bird Club member who had found our club online and registered on our website to receive our newsletter and who found our club and event of particular interest.

After lunch and a few minutes in the gift shop, most people went back to their cars. Given the threatening weather, we did have many great cars in the parking lot. We did get a visit from a former member who brought his black Sportbrake to be displayed with our cars. With just 249 of them making it to the US, you just don’t see them often.

Even given the misty start to the day, on balance, and based on all the positive comments being made, I think we all had a great time and start for 2023.

Phil Crutchfield

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