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An estate for all eras
Trip and Ashley Addison share their impressive remodeling of Henry Ford’s former residence as it goes on the market for $4.495 million
Ford Estate
Homeowners Trip and Ashley Addison are pictured in front of their residence at 170 Cherry Laurel Way in Richmond Hill, the former residence of Henry Ford and his wife Clara while his main winter home was in construction nearby. - photo by Andrea Gutierrez

The Model T may have been the first “universal” car for America's middle class, but the extravagant personal dwellings of its founder, Henry Ford, were anything but.

In the early 20th century, famed automobile industrialist Ford and his wife Clara relocated to the coastal Georgia town of Ways Station – now the city of Richmond Hill – in search of a new winter home.

When the Fords first arrived in 1925, the couple bought a home that served as a temporary residence for 12 years while their larger estate on the banks of the Ogeechee River was being built. At the same time, Henry Ford began purchasing up to 85,000 acres of land in Ways Station for agricultural ventures.

Ford Estate
Photo Courtesy Andrew Frazier Photo / A view of the front of Henry Ford's remodeled Cherry Hill home and guesthouse is shown in Richmond Hill.

That larger estate in question now serves as the main gathering space at the Ford Field & River Club, a gated community in Richmond Hill, which appropriately keeps its ‘Ford’ namesake, in honor of its notable first resident. The 7,000-square-foot Greek Revival building boasts – among other amenities – manicured gardens, a riverfront swimming pool and deck, and opulent living and dining rooms.

But the Fords’ first home, known as the Cherry Hill House and built by the plantation-owning Arnold clan in the 1870s, ultimately became the family’s guest house and stayed under Ford ownership until 1951.

Preserving ties to the past

Today, outside the classic porches of 170 Cherry Laurel Way, one would be hard-pressed to find a home more in sync with modern home design than Ford’s old Cherry Hill residence.

Homeowners Trip and Ashley Addison made their way to Richmond Hill from Atlanta nearly eight years ago, initially planning on settling in Savannah before encountering the Ford Field & River Club and the Cherry Hill home.

“We came here to have lunch with a friend and Trip (and I) fell in love with this property,” Ashley said.

The couple loved how central the home was to everything else in the gated community, like being within walking distance to the River Club Clubhouse, golf courses, and other River Club amenities.

“It’s like right in the middle of Ford itself,” Ashley added.

When the Addisons first noticed the home, it was a duplex being used as a rental by its previous owner, a status that the couple wanted to change as soon as they bought it.

“We’ve always talked about this home, what it should be,” Ashley explained.

Ford Estate
Courtesy Andrew Frazier Photo / The remodeled kitchen area of the of the Cherry Hill Ford house is shown above.

So, in January 2023, just eight months after purchasing the Cherry Hill House, the couple set about converting it to a single-family home that’s perfect for them and their two school-aged children.

Courtly living and dining rooms, state-of-the-art kitchen amenities, and large windows with stunning views of the River Club are just some of the hallmarks of this remodeled home.

Located on nearly one acre, the Cherry Hill House also features four en suite bedrooms, a spacious chef’s kitchen with a scullery, and a stately wooden staircase. Outside the home, a new 1,184 sq. ft. dogtrot garage includes parking for four cars as well as a private speakeasy and half-bath.

With all of these new additions, the Cherry Hill House is now a far cry from the historic yet somewhat untended duplex Trip and Ashley originally purchased for $1.66 million.

“It was not an eyesore by any means, but it was just not what it could be,” Ashley said.

“I tell people, ‘the four corners of this house are original’, and (also) the chimney fireplaces, but everything else, absolutely everything else, was redone.”

Ultimately, though, the Addisons bought the home for its historic link as Henry and Clara Ford’s first Richmond Hill residence, so the couple didn’t want to diminish the past as they went about their remodeling with Savannah-based firm Hansen Architects.

Ford Estate
Courtesy Andrew Frazier Photo / The primary bedroom of Cherry Hill is shown above.

“In terms of the design, it’s a very traditional house and we tried to stay true to that,” Ashley said, citing details such as darker floors and unlacquered brass throughout the home’s kitchen and bathrooms.

“Our goal was to balance paying homage to the Fords with bringing in modern comforts,” added Trip, who is the vice president of University Advancement at Georgia Southern University.

“It’s a space where history and present-day luxuries can live together – commemorating the past and embracing the present.”

A ‘historic’ listing

Fast forward to April 2024, and Henry Ford’s Cherry Hill home is now back on the market for $4.495 million, reflecting the home’s high-end redesign and priceless heritage.

“This incredible estate has direct ties to Henry Ford and offers the rare opportunity to own a true piece of American history,” said Danielle Hopper, associate broker with Seabolt Real Estate, the Savannah-based luxury real estate agency tasked with selling the home. “The owners have restored this historic residence to its former grandeur and have added a wide range of strategic upgrades, including a gourmet kitchen with premium finishes, sophisticated marble baths, designer lighting and much more.”

The Addisons bought the home in May 2022 and finished remodeling it in February this year. Although the family reportedly have no plans to move anywhere specific as of yet, the next homeowners of the historic Cherry Hill House will find a house fitted with modern style and boasting an illustrious past.

Ford Estate
Courtesy Andrew Frazier Photo / The window room of Cherry Hill is shown above.

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