Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Detroit, MI — January 4, 2020
The Detroit Ford and Lincoln Parts Manager’s Club celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant this past Saturday evening. The group of dealership parts managers meets monthly to discuss the operations of Ford dealership parts departments, receive input from Ford Motor Company representatives, discuss industry trends, and enjoy some personal interaction away from the competitive environment of day-to-day business.
One meeting each year is set aside to celebrate the endeavors of these hard-working men and women in a strictly social setting. Member’s guests are invited to liven up the atmosphere and keep attendees from talking business the whole evening. This year’s activity was held at the “Birthplace of the Model T,” Ford’s original plant in Detroit where the iconic cars were assembled one-by-one.
Club President David Brooks, from Lasco Ford in Fenton, commented on the venue. “We felt that celebrating our Club’s 75th anniversary deserved a special place befitting the special occasion. What better site to visit than this building where Henry Ford made history.”
As the birthplace of the Ford Model T car, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is recognized as one of the most significant automotive heritage sites in the world.
- Built: 1904 on Piquette Avenue and the Milwaukee Junction Rail Line
- Architect: Field, Hinchman & Smith, Detroit, Michigan
- Architectural style: A late Victorian style brick building, modeled after New England textile mills, with wooden post and beam frame
- Size: 402 feet long, 56 feet wide, three stories tall
- Powerhouse: A separate building, 36 feet x 57 feet
- Fire suppression features: Divided into four sections by three firewalls with fire doors, each section has fire escapes. A 25,000-gallon water tank on the roof fed an automatic sprinkler system, making it one of the earliest buildings in America with a fire suppression system
- Cost: The board approved $76,500 for construction in April 1904
- The Ford Motor Company’s first purpose-built factory. Previously space was rented on Mack Ave.
- Ford Models B, C, F, K, N, R, S, and T were assembled here.
- The Ford Model T was developed here, introduced in 1908 as a 1909 model.
- The first 12,000 Model Ts were assembled here and shipped out by railroad.
- Ford Motor Company relocated to its new Highland Park Plant in 1910, selling the Piquette building to Studebaker in 1911.
- Studebaker used it for automobile production until 1933.
- The building was occupied by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company and Cadillac Overall Company until purchased by Heritage Investment Company in 1989.
- It was sold in 2000 to the Model-T Automotive Heritage Complex, Inc., (doing business as) the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, that restored and now operates the historic site as a museum.
The information on the building and its history are from the museum website which contains a wealth of additional information about the events that transpired there. Visitors can tour the building Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am – 4 pm for a nominal charge. The museum is closed on major holidays, check the website for full details and availability. The address is 461 Piquette Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48202. There is on-site secured free parking available in the building enclosed lot.
Two floors of the building provide guests with examples of the products produced in the plant. The early Ford models are represented with vehicles on loan from local collectors. The building has been restored to its early 1900’s appearance as much as possible. A depiction of Henry Ford’s office exists in its original location on the 2nd floor and other executive suites are depicted.
Taking the time to experience the guided tour is a must. Some interesting facts are brought to attention. Each vehicle built in the Piquette Avenue Plant was assembled one-at-a-time by plant workers. The assembly line production method that Henry Ford developed did not exist at the time Ford’s manufacturing was housed in this building.
Another Little Know Piece of Ford Motor Company History
The “Blue Oval” is one of the most recognized product symbols in the world. But when the company was just starting, vehicle grilles were stamped with the Ford name in its iconic script with wings protruding from the “F” and “d.”
When you see this emblem it signifies the vehicle was produced at Piquette.
The 75th Anniversary Event
Given the reaction of those in attendance at the 75th-anniversary holiday party, the event was a spectacular success. Museum staff provided mini-tours, guests could sit in a Model T and have their picture taken by Photo Booth Plus. Bartending and event services were provided by Miss Mixology and Celebration DJ’s keep the entertainment flowing with light background music. The evening’s meal was catered by Detroit’s famous Slows Bar BQ and it lived up to their reputation of Detroit’s Best BBQ.
If you are a car buff or keen on the early history of Detroit the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Museum is a must-see destination. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.