Leaders Named for Historic Ford House, Fair Lane Estate

Mark Heppner, left, was named president and CEO of the Ford House, and Bob Bury was named president and CEO of Fair Lane. // Photographs Courtesy of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House; Fair Lane; Home of Clara and Henry Ford

The boards of trustees of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores and Fair Lane, Home of Clara and Henry Ford in Dearborn, Thursday announced the appointment of Mark Heppner as president and CEO of Ford House, and Bob Bury as president and CEO of Fair Lane.

Heppner’s role is effective immediately, while Bury will take over March 1.

Ford House is in the midst of the construction of two new buildings set to open in May 2020 — a 40,000-square-foot visitor center and a 17,000-square-foot administration building. The project is the first new construction in 25 years and the largest since the estate was built in 1929.

Fair Lane is continuing the restoration and reimagining of the home, which involves work by world-class artisans and specialists, as well as major upgrades to the estate’s infrastructure.

The appointments will enable the properties to focus on the projects with the support of dedicated leadership. Heppner and Bury will continue to work collaboratively for the estates’ continued success.

Heppner has served in the house museums for the last seven years as vice president of historic resources and, most recently, interim chief of operations over the Ford House and Fair Lane following the retirement of former president and CEO Kathleen Mullins in July 2018. He will oversee the building project, launch of the new buildings, and daily operations.

With nearly 30 years of museum and historic-site experience, Heppner was vice president of the museum services division at the American Alliance of Museums-accredited Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Ohio before becoming the executive director of Iowa’s Salisbury House and Gardens.

Heppner is on the boards of the Michigan Museums Association and MotorCities National Heritage Area, and he is a member of Rotary International. He helps other museums and historical societies with projects and challenges in administration, collections management, education, marketing, and other capacities.

Bury stepped down from his position as executive director and CEO of the Detroit Historical Society in June and joined the Historic Ford Estates as interim president and CEO following Mullins’ retirement.

He will work with the board of trustees to help steer the strategic future of the estate. He worked at AT&T for 20 years and at the Historical Society for 16, where he helped implement initiatives for the organization’s long-term stability.

Under Bury’s leadership, the society assumed leadership and operational responsibility of the Detroit Historical Museum, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Collections Resource Center from the city of Detroit, which had run the entities since the late 1940s.

He also led the $21.2-million campaign and other initiatives including “Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward.” The community engagement project included an exhibition, digital archive, and publication and was one of 10 recipients of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Bury serves on the boards of the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education, Midtown Detroit Inc., and CultureSource.

The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road and was the family home of Edsel Ford, Henry Ford and Clara Ford’s only son. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 2017.

Fair Lane, located at 1 Fair Lane Drive, was Clara Ford and Henry Ford’s home from 1915-1950 and given to Ford Motor Co. upon Clara Ford’s death. In 1957, Henry Ford donated the estate and farmlands to the University of Michigan to construct its Dearborn campus. Fair Lane, then known as Henry Ford Estate, was among the first in the nation to receive the designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.