Want to take a step back in time and visit the Oval Office as it was 40 years ago? Located in downtown Grand Rapids, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is the official museum and final resting place of our 38th President of the United States. Join us as we take you on an inside journey of the museum and the man who it recognizes.
Even though he was born under a different name in a different state, Gerald R. Ford always considered Grand Rapids his home. Gerald Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1913. His time was short-lived in Nebraska, as his mother separated from his father and briefly moved him to Oak Park, Illinois. After a very brief time in Oak Park, Ford’s mother relocated the family to Grand Rapids. Gerald R. Ford grew up in a house on Union Avenue, just south of the Heritage Hill Historic District. Growing up, Ford was a Boy Scouts, and eventually became an Eagle Scout (the only president to do so) and attended Grand Rapids South High School on Hall Street (now the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center), where he excelled in football. From here, Ford attended the University of Michigan, where he helped the Wolverines go undefeated two years in a row and majored in law. After the University of Michigan, Ford attended Yale University, where he earned a J.D. in law. After Yale, Ford returned to Grand Rapids and opened a law firm. His time was short in Grand Rapids; after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ford enlisted in the United States Navy, spending five years in combat.
After World War II, Ford returned home and married Betty and had four children. In 1949, he was elected to his first of thirteen terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1973, Ford replaced Spiro Agnew as the Vice President of the United States. His time would be short-lived in this role. Less than one year later, Richard Nixon resigned as President and Ford assumed the role. Ford ran for President in 1976, but was defeated by Jimmy Carter.
Gerald R. Ford was eventually laid to rest at the age of 93 in 1996. He is interned at the museum along with his wife. Ford will be remembered for many things, including: the only president who was not elected as vice-president or president, the longest-lived president, the only president that was an Eagle Scout and the only president to have his presidential library and museum in different cities (Ford’s presidential library is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan).
At the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, you can enjoy over 19,000 artifacts, including: Gerald Ford’s footballs, head of state gifts to the President, public gifts to the President, the United States’ Bicentennial items, pop culture of the 1970s, Betty Ford’s gowns and dresses and other miscellaneous presidential artifacts. The museum also includes a full-scale replica of Ford’s Oval Office as it was during his presidency. Another popular item on permanent exhibit is a section of the Berlin Wall, which has proven to be popular with visitors.
Do yourself a favor and step back in time to learn about the life and legacy of a true American hero and a son of Grand Rapids by visiting this museum. Admission is $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and military service members, $6.00 for college students, $4.00 for kids ages 6-18 and free for children 5 and under.