Detroit: Highland Park Model T Administration Building

Once the largest manufacturing facility in the world and still one of the most famous, the birthplace of the assembly line and the middle class is about to be restored.  Though the factory was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and parts of the factory floor are used today for the Henry Ford Museum’s overflow storage, much of it has been left to decay since the last cars were produced there in the 1970’s.

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via the Ford Motor Company and hemmings.com

Directly north of Detroit on Woodward, Highland Park is a separate city that hasn’t seen as many recent positive changes as Detroit, and land value is still relatively low.  There’s a modern shopping plaza nestled amid the administration building and where the Ford Motor Company sign is in the picture above, and the original factory floor remains privately owned and closed off to any visitors.

The administration building and its attached garage were sold and opened up for one final tour to a number of Detroit photographers before its crowdsourced renovation begins. It will become an Automobile Heritage and Welcome Center and museum, hopefully open to the public within the next five years.

Harriet Saperstein, chair of the Woodward Avenue Action Association that purchased the building and has been organizing the project, told Jack Lessenbury, “What makes this site fascinating to me is that the moving assembly line created the middle class. That’s under threat, and we need to remind people about the past to help them prepare for the future.”

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Its predecessor, the much smaller Piquette Plant (located next to Fisher Body 21 and where the first 12,000 Model T’s were built prior to the company’s expansion) went through a renovation process similar to what is expected for Highland Park.  Today, the Piquette Plant has regular visitor hours and tours, and you can even have your wedding there.

I look forward to seeing these changes in Highland Park.  It’s about time! 🙂

Update 10/20/16: The plans to create an automotive heritage museum at the plant have been scrapped, and its future, again, remains unclear.

Sources:

Effort underway to restore historic Ford Model T plant in Highland Park, Michigan

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant: Our History

7 thoughts on “Detroit: Highland Park Model T Administration Building

  1. As always. fabulous photos – fascinating stuff. Such an absolute shame that Ford, an archetypal American brand, should have it’s birthplace neglected like this!

    Like

  2. Your images are wonderful and sad in the flash of my eye. It seems shameful to me that one of the largest and most successful automotive companies in the world would allow such a significant part of their story to crumble. Thank you for you photos.
    -E

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It is really surprising, especially since its used to store things for the museum. Seems like a perfect opportunity to make improvements. I don’t think Ford Motor Company had anything to do with the Piquette renovation either, it was the same company that was trying to renovate this one. But, partnered with the UAW, Ford DID help revitalize the Rouge Plant in the 90s, which you can tour at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village. These days, though, historic preservation seems pretty low on their list.

      Liked by 1 person

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