Ford’s “jaw dropping” plan to restore Detroit station’s magnificent interior by hand

The Ford Motor Company has hired conservation specialist EverGreene Architectural Arts to restore – by hand – 5,200 sq m of decorative plasterwork at Michigan Central Station, the disused beaux-arts icon that it bought in 2018.

The Detroit landmark, which will be part of Ford’s 11.1ha Corktown campus, is being restored to the condition it was in when it opened in 1914.

Most of the building’s first floor used faux-stone plasterwork as a cost-saving measure. New York’s EverGreene will preserve what remains of the original material and re-create missing parts.

Austin Giesey, project manager for Christman-Brinker, the consultant leading the restoration project, said the effect would be "jaw dropping".   

"The original architects used every plaster craft available to them to create the station’s impressive public spaces," he said.

"When we’re finished with these spaces, they will look phenomenal. You will walk in and see a grand expanse of stonelike plaster that will look exactly like the original concept. It’s really going to be amazing."

The 18-month project will use three plaster techniques – traditional three-coat plaster, ornamental plaster and veneer plaster – to replicate more than 3,000 pieces, including the coffers, medallions and rosettes that adorn the waiting room’s walls and ceilings.

Although some digital tools will be used, a team of 15 to 20 craftspeople from EverGreene will do most of the plasterwork by hand.

Jeff Greene, executive chairman and founder of EverGreene, said: "There’s a lot of gratification, not only in the craft and what we do with our hands, but the act of elegantly preserving something that means so much to this city. A project of this scale will reverberate on the national stage."

Image: Most of the restoration work is being carried out by hand (Courtesy of Ford Motor Company’s media centre)

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