Preservation Group Crowdsources Purchase of Ford's Highland Park Buildings, Reprises "Five Dollars a Day"

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
preservation group crowdsources purchase of fords highland park buildings reprises

What remains of Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park plant, where the moving assembly line was developed and implemented.

Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park plant was the location of the first moving automotive assembly line a century ago this year. Henry Ford started to build the Highland Park complex in 1910, needing more capacity than he could produce in the Piquette Avenue plant. Getting away from Detroit taxes and more effectively being able to influence politics in the small municipal enclave within the Detroit city limits were also factors in Ford’s move. Much of the large complex, designed by famed architect Albert Kahn, has long since been demolished but a Detroit economic and community development group is trying to buy the plant’s office building, which still stands, and turn it into a center for information on automotive related attractions in the Detroit area.

Starting yesterday, the Woodward Avenue Action Association is going to try to use crowdsourcing to raise the remaining $125,000 needed to purchase two former Ford Motor Co. buildings in Highland Park. If successful, later funding will be needed to turn the buildings into a tourist information center. “We’ve not been very good at telling our own story,” said Deborah Schutt, interim director of the community group said about Detroit area automotive history. “So we’ve decided, let’s pull everything together and tell our story.”

Ford Highland Park plant Administration Building

In 1914, Henry Ford instituted a $5/day wage for Ford auto workers. That wasn’t out of the kindness of his heart but rather because he was all about productivity. Henry didn’t invent the assembly line, though FoMoCo is likely to have been the first car company to use one effectively. No, Henry’s contribution to mass production was breaking assembly down into discrete, simple tasks that even untrained labor could do. The result was a mentally stultifying job. The year before, in 1913, Ford had to bring on 42,000 new hires just to keep 14,000 positions staffed. To reduce that turnover rate and improve productivity, Ford started paying more for labor.

In tribute to that socially groundbreaking act, the Woodward Avenue Action Assoc. has started a “Five Dollars a Day” campaign so it can finalize a $550,000 purchase agreement to acquire the plant’s 40,000 sq ft administration building and an adjacent 8,000 foot garage by the agreement’s Sept. 19 deadline. They hope to raise the $125,000 that is needed to complete the deal, after securing $415,000 in grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corp and Michigan’s state Department of Transportation. The site was granted National Historic Landmark status in 1978.

Those who wish to donate can call 248-288-2004 or visit the Woodward Avenue Action Association’s crowdsourcing site for more information.

Join the conversation
2 of 46 comments
  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Aug 20, 2013

    I read that most excellent book: "Ford, the men and the machine", many years ago. Highly recommended, it fueled my appetite to visit Detroit and the "Ford World". Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Detroit area on a business trip. I took some time off, specifically to see several of the Ford places mentioned in the book, including Highland Park. It did not disappoint me. True, the buildings are derelict and the surrounding areas dirty and scary. The only way one knows about the significance of the place is by a small plaque attached to the building. But all of the old automotive plants have a certain grandness, certain majesty that I'm sure in the future will be compared to some of Europe's great cathedrals and palaces. And like them, if one knows just a little history, one understands that something that actually changed mankind happened at the place.

  • Vcficus Vcficus on Aug 21, 2013

    Ford and Chrysler are currently rejecting 80% of their applicants for the "new" lower wage UAW jobs... unable to meet the physical requirements after testing and training. The jobs have gotten easier since the 1920's but they're not easy yet, and you still need people to make cars.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Bullnuke One wonders if this poor woman entered the US through Roxham Road...
  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.