Shops, the J Jones Collection.
Navigation Bar Placeholder
Ford Motor Company Piquette Avenue Plant
At the Northwest corner of the intersection of Piquette Avenue
and Beaubien Street
in the Milwaukee Junction Area of Detroit
Picture Photo: Ren Farley; July, 2002 and info from
Henry Ford built his first motorized vehicle in a one-story brick workshop at 220 Bagley in the late 1890s. By 1899, he attempted to produce automobiles in larger
numbers. For a time, Ford rented a small building on Mack to manufacture his cars but his firm was not successful and he lost control of it to bankers and to Henry
Leland. On June 16, 1903 Henry Ford and 12 other Detroit men met in the offices of architect Alexander Malcomson, located at the intersection of Griswold and
Jefferson, to organize the Ford Motor Company. They provided the financial resources to build this factory at the corner of Piquette and Beaubien. Horace
Rackham was one of the founders, a man who contributed substantial funds to the University of Michigan, attaching his name to one impressive building in Ann
Arbor and another at the corner of Warren and Woodward in Detroit.

The Detroit architects Henry Field, Theodore Hinchman and Fred Smith designed this Piquette Street plant for the production of Ford cars. It is a three-story,
mill-style building that predated the use of reinforced concrete. The floors were oak planks that got soaked with grease and oil. It resembles a 19th century New
England textile mill. Fire was a major concern, so each floor was divided into four separate sections using firewalls. Presumably, if a fire broke out, it could be
contained to one section of one building. There is a decorative battlemented cornice on the Piquette street front of this building. The location was selected, in
large part, because of its location at the railroad crossing known as Milwaukee Junction; that is, the intersection of the Michigan Central belt line that connected
with their main line to Chicago and the Grand Trunk line that extended from Detroit to Grand Haven where freight cars were put on ferries for Milwaukee and
points West.

Henry Ford designed the Model T in this building, presumably in secret since his financial backers presumed he was building more expensive and thus more
profitable cars. The first Model T's was built in this structure and got to the streets of Detroit on October 1, 1908. By 1909, Ford was assembling many of them in
this building. He attempted to increase production but the size of this plant, about 400 by 56 feet, was too small, so as early as 1911, Ford started shifting
production to the large new plant he was constructing in Highland Park. However, this Piquette Avenue plant was where Ford began to experiment with assembly
line production. He set a record with the production of 110 cars in the ten hour shift.
Reference info below for future use