Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District

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Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant - Front Façade.jpg
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is a notable building in the district.
LocationDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
Coordinates42°22′5″N 83°3′57″W / 42.36806°N 83.06583°W / 42.36806; -83.06583Coordinates: 42°22′5″N 83°3′57″W / 42.36806°N 83.06583°W / 42.36806; -83.06583
ArchitectField, Hinchman and Smith; Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, et al.
Architectural styleLate Victorian, Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements
NRHP reference #04000601[1]
Added to NRHPJune 15, 2004

The Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District is a historic district located along Piquette Street in Detroit, Michigan, from Woodward Avenue on the west to Hastings Street on the east. The district extends approximately one block south of Piquette to Harper, and one block north to the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Line. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.[1]

The area along Piquette was an important center for automobile production in the early 20th century. Ford Motor Company, Studebaker, Cadillac, Dodge, and Regal Motor Car had plants in the area, as well as suppliers such as Fisher Body.[2] In 1910, the two largest automobile producers in the world, Studebaker and Ford, were located next door to each other on Piquette.[2] Although the area is largely empty and derelict now, as recently as the 1950s there were 50,000 workers employed in plants in the district.[2]

General history[edit]

Two smaller buildings on Piquette Avenue near Woodward in the Historic District.

Major railroad infrastructure, known as the Milwaukee Junction, was built in the 1890s to facilitate industrial expansion in the city of Detroit.[3] The heart of Milwaukee Junction was Piquette Avenue, although industrial plants were built in this area on both sides of Woodward Avenue, with the automotive industry prominently involved. The area west of Woodward and south of the railroad tracks is the New Amsterdam Historic District, while a portion of the area east of Woodward is now the Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District.


Autocar Service Building[edit]

Autocar Service Building, Piquette and Brush.
Logo above front door, Autocar Service Building.

The Autocar Service Building is located on the southwest corner of Piquette and Brush.[4] It is currently owned by the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department.

E-M-F/Studebaker Plant (201 - 285 Piquette)[edit]

Studebaker Plant in 2003

The Studebaker Plant was located on the north side of Piquette, between Brush and John R. The building first housed Wayne Automotive in 1906.[4] In 1908, Wayne merged with Northern Motor Car to form the E-M-F Company.[5] The owners of E-M-F formed a manufacturing and distribution partnership with Studebaker, and eventually Studebaker took control of E-M-F (and the plant) in 1910.[5] Studebaker continued to manufacture automobiles in the plant until 1925.[6] After Studebaker left the plant, Chrysler used it until the mid-1960s as a parts facility.[4]

The building was used in part for warehousing after that, as well as home the Piquette Market, a meat wholesaler.[7] In June 2005, the plant was completely destroyed in a fire.[4] As of 2008, a shelter for homeless veterans was planned for the site.[8]

When Studebaker began production of the two models of the Rockne, the larger "75" was produced in South Bend, beginning December 15, 1931; and the smaller "65" went into production at the old E-M-F plant on Piquette Avenue in Detroit, February 22, 1932. This Piquette Avenue plant was the same plant at which the 1927 and 1928 Erskine models had been built. Rockne's were also produced at Studebaker's Walkerville, Ontario plant.

The 1933 Rockne line was reduced to one line, the "10". The Rockne "10" was an update of the "65". When Studebaker went into receivership on March 18, 1933, it was decided to move production of the Rockne to the Studebaker plant in South Bend. The Rockne "10" was built in South Bend from April through July, 1933."

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (461 Piquette)[edit]

Piquette plant.

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is located at 461 Piquette, on the northwest corner of Piquette and Beaubien. It is a three-story mill-style building designed by Field, Hinchman, and Smith for Ford in 1904.[9] The first Model Ts were built in this building.[10] The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on February 17, 2006.[1]

Fisher Body Plant 23 (601 Piquette)[edit]

Fisher Body Plant 23, Piquette and Beaubien.

The Fisher Body Plant 23 is located on the northeast corner of Piquette and Beaubien.[4]

Fisher Body Plant 21 (700 Piquette)[edit]

Fisher Body Plant 21, Piquette and St. Antoine.

The Fisher Body Plant 21 is located on the southeast corner of Piquette and St. Antoine.[10] It was designed in 1921 by Albert Kahn for Fisher Body, who manufactured Buick and Cadillac bodies in the plant until 1925.[11] The plant is six stories tall, with a footprint of 200 feet (61 m) by 581 feet (177 m) and an interior area of 536,000 square feet.[12] During the Great Depression, Fisher suspended production and the building was used as a soup kitchen and homeless shelter.[13] The plant was used as an engineering design facility from 1930–1956;[11] during World War II, the factory produced P-80 Lockheed Shooting Star Planes, Vought F4U Corsair Shipboard Fighters, and some assemblies for B-25 Mitchell bombers.[13] After 1956, the plant was used to build Cadillac limousine bodies; GM closed the plant in 1984.[13] After GM left, several paint companies used the building; it closed for good in 1994.[12][13] In 1999, as a result of unpaid property taxes, the building became the property of the City of Detroit and was re-addressed as 6051 Hastings St.


  1. ^ a b c National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b c "Huge fire destroys century-old warehouse in Detroit" from USA Today.
  3. ^ Eric J. Hill, John Gallagher, and the American Institute of Architects Detroit Chapter, AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2002, ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. pp. 168-169.
  4. ^ a b c d e Joel Kurth and Douglass Dowty, "Flames char piece of Detroit auto heritage," The Detroit News, June 22, 2005
  5. ^ a b "The History of the E-M-F company,"
  6. ^ Everitt-Metzger-Flanders/Studebaker Auto Plant from Detroit1701
  7. ^ Studebaker History Archived 2007-12-14 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "City Breaks Ground On Veteran Housing" from WDIV
  9. ^ Ford Motor Company Piquette Avenue Plant from Detroit1701.org
  10. ^ a b Fisher Body Plant Number 21 from Detroit1701.org
  11. ^ a b Detroit Cadillac Driving Tour from Motor Cities.org
  12. ^ a b Fisher Body 21 from Forgotten Detroit
  13. ^ a b c d Samantha Cleaver, "Body and soul: The story of Fisher Body 21," Metro Times, August 13, 2008