The Fords outside their Rancho Mirage home in 2006. SOURCE: Advance Media

The modestly presidential desert home of Gerald and Betty Ford has hit the Rancho Mirage real estate market. The $1.699 million listing proves that the sporting and Midwestern sensibilities of the 38th president of the United States and his wife endured throughout the couple’s long lives.

Located on the Thunderbird Country Club golf course, the 6,316-square-foot ranch home features 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and his-and-hers offices, which still hold some presidential memorabilia. A portrait of Betty still hangs in the living room.

The mid-century classic was designed by Welton Beckett in 1977, and ready for the couple to move into in 1978, after Ford lost the 1976 presidential election to Jimmy Carter.

The listing of the home comes six years after President Ford died in 2006 at age 93, and months after the former First Lady passed away in July 2011, also at the age of 93. None of the couple’s four children live in the Rancho Mirage area, but the home was the couple’s sanctuary from a busy public schedule.

With some of the well-worn furniture still in the home, it’s clear the place was used often. For 33 years, the President and First Lady swam in the inviting backyard pool and played golf — fitting for a former University of Michigan football player whose family also loved to ski.

(Another former Ford property in Beaver Creek, CO is back on the market, too. That home sold for $6.65 million in 2007, but is now listed for sale at $9.850 million.)

According to a story about the Ford’s Ranch Mirage home on

There are also no security cameras inside what staff members called “the residence” — only infrared security sensors and at least one emergency phone that was in the president’s bathroom. Secret Service agents lived in an adjacent, 5,284-square-foot house that also served as the president’s official office.That home-turned-office complex was once owned by actress Ginger Rogers, but is now owned by the University of Southern California. It’s for sale for $509,000.

About the Author

Laura Vecsey is a former sports columnist, news reporter and politics writer and has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Baltimore Sun, Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union and Harrisburg Patriot-News. She was also a regional editor with She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

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