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Porch Party Raises Funds for the Mansion

Farmington's most historic home needs $70K in repairs.

Although the evening started out a little warm and humid, a cool breeze drifted through Farmington on Thursday just in time for the Porch Party.

Guests paid $5 for a hot dog, chips, drinks and homemade desserts, which they enjoyed while being serenaded by a barbershop quartet composed of singers from Greenfield Village in Dearborn. The event is the first in a series of similar fundraisers.

Mansion volunteer Christiane Lenz said volunteers have focused even more on raising funds for the historic house museum this year.

"The city has less and less money, and the mansion desperately needs help," she said. "The biggest thing now is the separation."

Foundations shifting

Simply put, the foundations of additions built onto the house after it was constructed in 1867 have shifted. Visible gaps exist between the main house, which has a brick exterior, and the wood exterior add-ons. The most obvious damage can be seen inside, where second-floor walls are separating at the corners and seeping water has damaged the ceiling.

In late 2010, Farmington architect Steve Schneeman inspected the house to find out what was causing the additions to shift. In a letter to Department of Public Works Director Kevin Gushman, Schneeman reported the house and additions on the south side of the house have separate foundations.

While the main house's foundation, he wrote, "seem to be relatively stable, the three different types of foundations under the additions are not." Each foundation is made of different material—brick, wood and stone—which all respond differently to aging and weather conditions. Cost for repairs and replacing the different foundations would be $70,000, Schneeman estimated.

Stylish fundraiser planned

A series of Porch Parties might seem on the small side given that figure, but Lenz said to write grants that could help cover the cost. In addition, other fundraisers planned. 

On Tuesday, volunteers will stage the . What started as a special project for an intern who worked with Lenz in 2009 has become an annual event. Previously held on the mansion grounds, where the open setting made it more difficult to charge admission, this year's event is at the Huron River Hunting & Fishing Club on Farmington Road in Farmington.

Local officials and Mansion volunteers will model the latest fashions from and Derby Hats by Rachelle; their hair and makeup will be provided by . Vendors including , and INTU specialty teas and accessories will have items available for sale before the luncheon and show. The $30 tickets are available at .

A Sept. 8 "Night at the Civic" fundraiser, at the , will benefit the museum and the . Tickets for this event will also be available at City Hall. Call 248-474-5500, ext. 2225, for information.

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