September 20, 2008

Ford’s Former Beaver Creek House for Sale Presidential Seal, Other Reminders Adorn 1983 Home

By John Rebchook

When he was a cadet at West Point in 1975, Kevin Hayes met President Gerald Ford and shook his hand.

"He was my first commander in chief that I respected," Hayes said.

Now, more than three decades later, Hayes, the former CEO of commercial real estate company CRESA Partners, is selling Ford's home in Beaver Creek.

The asking price is $14.9 million for the 9,854-square-foot home, with seven bedrooms, 10.5 baths, the only enclosed swimming pool in Beaver Creek, and lots of reminders that the only other owner was the former president and his family.

Hayes spent more than $4 million renovating the home. He paid $6.65 million for it in 2007.

"Gerald Ford was a very unpretentious man, who lived very simply," said Hayes, who has made a living buying and selling homes in the Vail Valley since the early 1990s. He currently owns about six homes in the Vail Valley.

One thing Hayes did was install a presidential seal in the floor of the foyer of the home at 65 Elk Track Court.

"I have never stepped on the seal," said Hayes, who lives in Newport Beach, Calif.

"And even the workmen in the house never stepped on it during the construction," Hayes said.

"I think that shows you the reverence and respect people have for it," Hayes said.

He also took a suite that formerly housed Secret Service agents and integrated it into the home. There's now a pool table in that room.

In the study where Ford penned a large portion of his autobiography, Hayes filled it with memorabilia such as the president's putter, a cowboy hat he owned and photos of Ford.

Ford had a habit of rocking back and forth while writing, and so Hayes had the construction workers preserve a portion of the floor where the chair left grooves.

Also, many of the interviews for the book about Ford, Write It When I'm Gone, by Thomas De Frank, took place in the Beaver Creek house.

Another interesting tidbit is that Ford's chief form of exercise was swimming. Until he was 91, he swam twice a day at his pool when he was in Beaver Creek, Hayes said. And from 91 until he died at age 93, he swam once a day when staying at the home, Hayes said.

"The media used to like to act that he was clumsy because he was photographed falling down the stairs off Air Force One, and there's a photo of him falling down skiing, and his golf mishaps, but he was by far the most athletic of any president in history," Hayes said.

Matt Fitzgerald, who is listing the home with fellow Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate broker Anna Menz, said the original developers of Beaver Creek gave Ford his pick of lots in the fledgling ski resort in 1979.

After he bought his lot, the house was completed in 1983.

"I could have torn it down and built something more modern on the site, but I really wanted to preserve it as the home of President Ford and his family," Hayes said.

Fitzgerald said that rarely are former president's homes sold on the open market.

"Typically, the president's former home is sold in a quiet, private transaction," he said.

"I still struggle to say this without getting all choked up, but two hours later (after he was chosen to close on the home in 2006), President Ford passed away at his home in Rancho Mirage (Calif.)," Hayes said.

"I thought I was buying a home from a living president, but instead it was from a president who had just died," he added.

The closing was put on hold for 60 days, as the family took care of funeral and other business, he said.

So far, "four very qualified buyers," have looked at the house, Fitzgerald said.


From the brochure

A unique opportunity to own the longtime residence of President Gerald R. Ford and his family. Situated on one of the resort's most spectacular home sites offering breathtaking views of the ski slopes with easy ski access.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a home of historical significance located within the heart of one of the world's greatest ski resorts. When Beaver Creek was still in the planning phase President Ford was offered first choice of all the home sites to build his dream home.

The 9,854-square-foot, seven- bedroom vacation home of the First Family of Vail has been remarkably restored and preserved while upgrading every detail of the home to the highest standards of mountain elegance.

The exquisite remodel retains a sense of the home's history, from the President's study, to the elegant master bedroom and the President's indoor swimming pool.

The residence features a gourmet kitchen, a separate chef's kitchen, a dramatic wine room, a family theater room, a massage room and Beaver Creek's only private indoor swimming pool.

Owners will enjoy extraordinary ski mountain views from one of the world's most beautiful mountain residences. Many come to Beaver Creek for the winters . . . they stay for the summers.

Originally published by John Rebchook, Rocky Mountain News.

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