Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
|Location||461 Piquette Avenue
|Architect||Field, Hinchman & Smith|
|Architectural style||Late Victorian|
|Part of||Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District (#04000601)|
|NRHP Reference #||02000041|
|Added to NRHP||February 22, 2002|
|Designated NHL||February 17, 2006|
|Designated CP||June 15, 2004|
|Designated MSHS||March 13, 2003|
The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is a museum and former factory located at 461 Piquette Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, within the Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District in Milwaukee Junction. It was the second home of Ford Motor Company automobile production and is best known as the birthplace of the Ford Model T. It is the oldest automotive factory building in the world open to the general public. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, designated as a Michigan State Historic Site in 2003, and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2006.
In May 1904, after less than one year in operation, the board of the Ford Motor Company approved construction of a New England mill-style building, on a lot at the corner of Piquette and Beaubien Streets in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman, and Fields designed the building, which is three stories tall, 56 feet (17 m) wide, and 402 feet (123 m) long. The structure served the Ford Motor Company for only a few years, yet it played a most important role in realizing Henry Ford's dream of an affordable car for the masses.
During the time Ford occupied the Piquette Avenue Plant (1904-1910), the company assembled Ford upscale Models B and K; and Ford entry-level Models C, F, N, R, S, and T. Ford's first model, the original Ford Model A, was built at Ford's previous facility: the Ford Mack Avenue Plant (1903-1904). In many ways, the Ford Model N was a precursor to the Model T in that it was an inexpensive, reliable, and innovative automobile. Ford first used vanadium steel extensively in the Model N.
During 1907, in a room at the northwest corner of the third floor of the Piquette Avenue Plant, Henry Ford and a small team of dedicated engineers and draftsmen developed the Model T, the car that would change the world. Records at Dearborn show that much of the design and experimental work was done by Joseph Galamb, C. Harold Wills, Harry Love, C.J. Smith, Gus Degener, and Peter E. Martin. Plans for what became the "Car of the Century" were announced in the spring of 1908.
The first production Model T was built at the Piquette Avenue Plant on September 27, 1908. Peter E. Martin was plant superintendent and production manager, while Charles E. Sorensen was Martin's assistant and handled production development. Only 11 cars were built there the following month. However, demand quickly grew, and it soon became apparent that the facility could no longer keep up with increasing output.
In January 1910, after assembling nearly 12,000 Model Ts at the Piquette Avenue Plant, Henry Ford moved production to his new complex in Highland Park, Michigan. There, he introduced the moving assembly line in 1913-1914 and would eventually produce 15 million Model T Fords.
The Piquette Avenue Plant was sold in January 1911 to Studebaker. Studebaker had acquired the E-M-F Company the previous year, which had its own plant located one block west on Piquette Avenue. Studebaker used the former Ford building for automobile production until 1933. The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company occupied the building from 1936 until 1968, when the Cadillac Overall Company purchased it. Heritage Investment Company purchased the building in 1989 and owned it until 2000.
Model T Automotive Heritage Complex
In 2000, Heritage Investment Company sold the Piquette Avenue Plant to a non-profit organization known as the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex, which has been operating the building as a museum since it first opened to the general public on July 27, 2001. The plant was spared disaster on June 20, 2005, when the former Studebaker/E-M-F Company Plant across the street burned to the ground. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Model T to roll out of the plant, the building's front façade was fully restored and revealed to the general public on September 27, 2008. On August 11, 2011, Piquette Avenue Plant tour guide Tom Genova won a ROSE Award from the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau in the Volunteers category. On May 18, 2012, the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex won a NAAMY Award from the National Association of Automobile Museums in the Films and Videos category for Division I (museums with budgets less that $300,000). On November 10, 2015, the Window Restoration Team at the Piquette Avenue Plant received the 2nd Annual MotorCities National Heritage Area Award of Excellence in the Preservation category.
- Ford River Rouge Complex
- The Henry Ford
- List of automobile museums
- List of museums in Michigan
- List of transport museums
- Tourism in metropolitan Detroit
- Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Ford Piquette Avenue Plant". Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
- "Ford Piquette Avenue Plant". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- Ford Piquette Avenue Plant - Experience the Original Model T Factory
- Lacey, Robert (1986). Ford: The Men and the Machine. ISBN 0-316-51166-8.
- Wik, Reynold M. (1972). "Henry Ford and Grass Roots America."
- National Historic Landmark Nomination - Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, p. 22
- Neighborhood Link - Out Of This World - Model T Revisited
- USA Today - Huge fire destroys century-old warehouse in Detroit
- PR Newswire - Ford Model T Plant Gets Makeover
- ROSE Awards - 2011 Honorees
- National Association of Automobile Museums - NAAMY Awards 2012
- MotorCities National Heritage Area - Awards of Excellence recipients announced at special ceremony
- Ford Piquette Avenue Plant website
- Ford Piquette Avenue Model T Plant as seen from Beaubien Avenue looking south
- Ford Piquette Avenue Plant History
- Ford Piquette Plant by Kathy Toth