Mill Creek Park still looking for $1 million to renovate Ford Nature Center


Four years ago, Mill Creek MetroParks announced plans to renovate the Ford Nature Center. But, the park system is still $1 million short of the money needed to get it done.

It’s been a long fundraising effort which, if all goes as planned, should end in the next few months.

Looking at some of the park’s drawings can give you an idea of what a renovated Ford Nature Center will look like.

“As you move around to the back of the building, you’ll see some dramatic changes,” said Mill Creek Development Director Chris Litton.

The back of Judge John Ford’s 106-year-old house will be the focal point of the renovation, with a landscaped patio on top of a new exhibit space built into the hill.

The exterior will be cleaned and the carriage house transformed into an education center. Inside is where, since 1972, students have been taught about nature. It too will be redone with new stairs and an elevator added.

“It’s a $3 million project. We’ve raised $1 million over the course of the last year and we received a million dollar match from the Sand Hill Foundation of Menlo Park, California,” Litton said.

Sand Hill is run by the daughter-in-law of the late Judge Ford, who lived in the house and gave it to the park. When she heard the house was going to be preserved, she wanted the Ford family to be a part of it.

That leaves $1 million still to be raised, which Litton admits is a lot of money. But, he hopes to have it done by spring.

“People love Mill Creek and love the Ford Nature Center, so we’re very optimistic that we’ll reach that goal,” he said.

The renovation won’t start until all the money is there.

“We’ll start when we have the full $3 million in pledges,” Litton said.

It’s possible some park money could eventually be used, but not $1 million worth.

“We can put park money towards it, but we want to see how much we can raise of the remaining million,” Litton said.

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