Learn about the only U.S. President born in the state of Nebraska.
Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center
1326 South 32nd St
Omaha, Nebraska 68105-2044
Please call 402-595-1180
The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center houses a small exhibit that explores the birth and political history of the thirty-eighth president of the United States.
On July 14, 1913, Gerald R. Ford, the only Nebraska native to become president of the United States, was born in the King mansion, which then stood at the corner of Thirty-second Street and Woolworth Avenue. In 1974 Omaha businessman James M. Paxson purchased the Ford birthsite and developed it as a park. Paxson's philanthropic efforts continued with the purchase of adjoining properties where the Ford Conservation Center was constructed.
Gerald R. Ford lived in Omaha for only sixteen days after he was born to Leslie King, Sr. and Dorothy Gardner, in July of 1913. The marriage between his parents lasted only sixteen months. His mother fled the unsuccessful marriage and returned to her family home in Michigan. In December of 1913 she obtained a divorce, and her son's ties to the King family--and to Nebraska--were severed. She remarried and her second husband adopted her small son as Gerald Rudoph Ford, Jr.
The exhibit on President Ford's life reestablishes those ties to the state where he was born. The displays of historical artifacts, photographs, video material, and memorabilia trace the highlights of his illustrious career:
- Ford attended the University of Michigan, where he played center for the football team.
- He received a law degree from Yale and practiced law in Grand Rapids.
- He joined the U.S. Navy as an ensign during World War II.
- He married Elizabeth ("Betty") Bloomer October 15, 1948.
- He was elected to the United States Congress as a Republican representative from Michigan and served continuously from 1948 until 1973.
- Ford sat on the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy.
- Ford was elected House majority leader in 1965.
- Ford was appointed vice-president in 1973 as the Nixon presidency unraveled.
Gerald Ford became the thirty-eigth president of the United States on August 9, 1974. The American people hoped he would usher in a time of needed healing. The open wounds of Watergate and the Vietnam War had divided the nation, and many Nebraskans saw Ford as the peacemaker who would bring Americans together.
No simple caretaker, Ford actively carried out his duties. He became his party's candidate for president in the next election after a bitter struggle with Ronald Reagan in the primaries. He lost a close contest with Democrat Jimmy Carter, although Nebraska's electoral votes went to Ford.
The Ford Center exhibit spotlights several visits the new president made to Nebraska. The bonds between Ford and Nebraska, the state where he was born, were strong, sincere, and heartfelt. The objects on display illustrate this warm relationship.
About Conservation Center
Ford Birthsite and Gardens