Adjacent to the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center is the President Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens. This site commemorates the birth of Leslie King, Jr., who later became Gerald R. Ford, Jr. and was eventually sworn in as the thirty-eighth president of the United States of America in 1974.
The ornate Victorian house at 3202 Woolworth Avenue was one of the finest homes in Omaha. The three-story, fourteen-room house reflected the status of its wealthy occupants, the King family. The Kings' only son, Leslie, married Dorothy Gardner and, in the summer of 1913, the young couple lived in this house with Leslie's parents as they awaited the birth of their first child. On a hot and steamy July 14, 1913, Leslie King, Jr., was born. Soon afterwards, the new mother took the little boy to live with her parents in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dorothy and Leslie's marriage ended in divorce and in 1916 Dorothy remarried. The three-year-old boy was adopted by his new stepfather and became Gerald Rudoph Ford, Jr.
In 1971 President Ford's birthplace home was razed following a fire. Upon Ford's succession to the presidency in 1974, Omaha businessman James M. Paxson purchased the property intending to build a memorial on the site. In 1977 the birthsite was dedicated. The following year a rose garden was added in honor of former First Lady Betty Ford.
The Birthsite and Gardens are administered by the city of Omaha. The lovely gardens are open to the public daily from early morning until dusk and are also available for private rental events. Please contact the Omaha City Parks and Recreation Department at 402-444-5955 for more information.