Jump to content

Packard Detroit Factory Inquiry - Still There?


Guest BJM
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just read the article about the Packard Proving Grounds Restoration in the latest Collectible Automobile magazine. That got me thinking about the old factory. I have read many books on Packard but it has been a while. I remember one book which had a phot of two 56 Packards in front of the Detroit Packard headquarters. Is the factory still there or has somebody finally torn it down?

I remember a couple of years ago there was a story about tearing it down but I can't remember. It would be nice to visit. If it is still standing, is it at all open to the public to tour or off limits?

Thanks for any assistance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the Proving Grounds subject, it's a d**n shame that they can't spare a few more acres as a historical preservation. Ford Land granted (granted) 7.5 acres with stipulations that another 7 acres more or less would be granted if certain conditions were met!!???

This is MICHIGAN we are talking about and everyone is more concerned with teh almight dollar and buidling a disposable suburban home or two then preserving something of such historical importance. Why do we have to pry the land from FORD LAND's fingers when they have plenty of money?

I will be sending money to the address at the end of the story periodically to aid in the restoration costs but I don't understand why the state does not step in on the few remaining automotive historical sites and create legislation for preservation and funding for restoration.

What is good for GM is good for America?

How about "What is good for Automotive History is good for Michigan"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3jakes--it's still there, for now. The city has done much to hasten the decay of the property of late, there was an illegal attempt to sieze/demo it a few years ago. For the PAC convention this July we are having a bus tour past (we are not getting off the bus) the Packard plant, and the site of the Connor plant, in addition to the Ford Piquette, Ford Highland park, General Motors bldg,Fisher bldg, and Fox theatre on this tour. Mr.Pushbutton will be a guide on one of the busses. This will in all likelyhood be the last oppertunity for a PAC convention to see the plant, so sign up early.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">we are not getting off the bus </div></div>

Mrpb, I plan on attending the PAC convention and will be on the tour but sorry to hear there won't be a walking tour outside the Packard factory. I know the inside is a hazardous site but it would sure be nice to walk the grounds. How bout if we carry a taser <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Wasn't it about 1974 when during a PAC convention they got to drive throught the plant. That would have been something. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IIRC the Packard Powerhouse was the part that was illegally demoed. Attached is photo of it. Almost all of the rest of it is still there, but deteriorating fast.

359034-PackardPowerhouse.jpg

<span style="font-weight: bold">MrPushbutton</span>, I've been slowly squirreling away Packard plant pics for the OCF thread, and when they reach critical mass I'll post them. I'm in the middle of doing an index of the thread, but the Sanborn fire insurance maps of Packard are located at:

Page 8 Old Car Factory Thread

post-44235-143137885964_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting site!!!! Statistics from the site indicate F daily total payroll in (1949?) at $1.25 KK and 75K employess. That works out to about $2/hr per employee. NOW, can we figure 1 car per minute and calculate labour cost per car for that era?????? Compare it to todays claims?????? How about 3% profit margins claimed ca. 1980's???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the Mexicantown restaurants are still there and thriving. I go there every week. They are working hard on the Packard proving grounds and it will be an all day highlight of the upcoming national Packard Club meet. You really don't want the state involved in saving this property. The dedicated Packard people working on it will get the job done without all the regulations and rules.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JT--The main reason we are not exiting the busses @ E.Grand Blvd. has more to do with keeping a time schedule (you pay for busses by the hour) than personal security, although It's hard to find a more forsaken area than the P. Plant. We have a group of structures that are significant to the automotive industry we want to feature in the tour, and a specified block of time in which to hit it all, including lunch at the "taste of Detroit" festival being held in the New Center area. We wanted to put this tour together to show the area's historical buildings, significant to the industry, ending with the Packard sites, in an organized and narrated manner. All of the other events are pretty much far-suburbia type of things, along the McDonalds-KFC-BK-Applebee's geography of nowhere-in-particular, the big exceptions being the PPG and the Scripps Mansion.We have been able to work in a true Detroit feature into the meet and give those who don't want to venture solo on to E.Grand Blvd. a way to see it. I'm sure many will venture down there during that week, and that's fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I take it the neighborhood around the Packard plant is not the best. It would be nice to get some photos of it before it ends up as rubble. I suppose there is no way to reserve it and after all it is a factory, not like the proving grounds which has a lodge and smaller buildings / gate - as a focal point. You folks involved in the PPG project deserve big time recognition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MrPB, Thanks, sounds like it's going to be a great tour with a lot to see. I appreciate your part in putting this all together.

Maybe there will be some communication with those who want to venture back down to the plant as a group for a closer look, given there is time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Pushbutton: I have a great idea on how you can get the extra funds to be able to have the bus stop at the Packard factory.

How about getting in touch with Kanter's and SRB. It seems that both parties should owe some money to PAC, for all the free plugs that SRB gave his employer in the Berry story, that was published in the TPC about a year ago. Maybe they can give a few bucks to help defray from the tour bus expense.

John F. Shireman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some cities, building like these, usually smaller I'll bet - are converted into trendy loft apartments. In this case, a person could retain the Albert Kahn exterior architecture, have a huge atrium inside, shops, apartments and a section devoted to the Packard history (a small site based museum) BUT since I have never been there and based on the other responses so far - that neighborhood sounds too rough to attract young urban professionals to live there. You also need infrastructure like grocery stores, gas stations, churches, etc. and I'll bet the floors and soils under that site are an environmental hazard!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">In some cities, building like these, usually smaller I'll bet - are converted into trendy loft apartments </div></div>

Location and economy. Detroit is flush with beautiful old buildings that would make very desirable upfits but I think there are just too many to save before some of them deteriorate beyond repair.

Hopefully the original core of the Packard plant can be saved but I don't hold out any hope for the entire site. It's a real shame. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here are a couple of links showing the current state of the Packard factory.

Packard factory 2000

Packard factory 2002

There are a few other Detroit abandoned building sites on the web that show the Packard plants.

(If I get some time I'll do up a couple of aerial photos showing the extant of the Packard facilities from around fifty years ago. I'm trying to research and eventually show on these photos, the expansion of the plant over time.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3Jakes: Since you have read many books on Packards, I am suprised that you didn't bring up the other article, that also apeared in the latest issue of

of Collectible Automobile. The article I am refering to is titled George W. Mason Nash's Architect of Change by Patrick Foster. The last paragraph of on page 72 and the first two paragraphs on page 73, should be interesting to anyone who has read many books about Packard. The statements in those paragraphs certainly contridicks what is certainly part of Packard history.

Basically it states that Nance adviced the Packard Board of Directors to reject Nash's overtures about a merger between Nash and Packard. This being done because Nance felt that he would have a lesser role in the new company. The other fact that is interesting is that Studebaker was briefly considerd in the immedialte post wars days. According to former Nash executives wasn't going to be any part of any planned tie up in 1953 or 1954.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John,

I read that article on Mason with great interest as I enjoy auto history more then owning specific cars. You noted the most interesting aspect of that story for Packard fans. Nance and Romney were contemporaries that came along at the same time, both with huge talent and the ego to go with it. I suppose since Nance was seen as such a savior to the Packard old guard, they were not going to mess with is recommendation to NOT accept Mason's offer.

That website that shows the Packard plant is great. I plan on looking at the other abandoned buildings with more time. Thanks to everyone for their inputs and great websites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hornwrecker,

I am pretty sure that if I lived in Detroit I would take some pretty interesting Sunday drives. I could spend a whole day at the Packard plant just imagining the ghosts. I suppose the insides have had all traces of Packard removed, such as the old assembly lines and tooling, parts, offices...

I wonder if the President's office could be identified - or were they in a seperate part of Detroit?

John S. - I didn't realize how GOOD of a guy Mason was. I never read an indepth article on him. Because he was cigar chomping "rotund" kind of guy I always associated him with the Monopoly game guy but of course he was not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in 1973 when the Packard Club's national meet was in Detroit, people wandered around the factory and drove their cars up into the buildings, and even over the bridge between the buildings over East Grand Blvd. The president's office was open, and you could sit behind the desk in there. (Photos were published in the club magazine showing this.) A lot of people took many of the wooden "bricks" from the floors of the buildings. In 1982, the historic dedication of the site was made by the state of Michigan, and Warren Packard III was there. The cars weren't allowed inside (except for parking), but you could still wander around inside.

About 10-15 years ago, Automobile Quarterly published a biography on George Mason.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny, I live about six miles from the Packard factory, and I can't remember the last time I drove by it. When I went to college at Wayne State, some of my short cuts used to go either by the Plymouth Lynch Road Assembly and the Hupmobile Factory, the Packard Factory, or Dodge Main. All are now either gone or closed.

Here is another website with more relatively current photos of Packard:

More Packard Factory photos

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brian,

I 100% understand. Here in Des Moines, Iowa our "bad" areas are like the near-suburbs of most cities. I am going to try and make it to Detroit to see all the area museums and car attractions and will attempt to visit the Packard plant and proving grounds. I just fear that once the factory is gone, it's gone for good. I have an ability to 'visualize' the scene as it was in it's hey day and not how it is now. It also must be quite large. One gets the impression that the independent company plants were small but this place looks like it goes on and on.

The funny thing is the abandoned vehicles parked on the grounds with graffiti and such. Also, in one shot, you see a cemetary next to the plant!

That would have been so cool to sit behind the President's desk or even be in the same room. McCauley and all the dignitaries that would have been there. "The Colonel" discussing the latest V12 with McCauley and you're standing in that space. Or the decision to build the 110 in the middle of the Depression and your standing in the boardroom (assuming it was there). Wow, that's pretty cool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The cemetery is the German Lutheran Cemetery.

The attachment is an aerial view from WSU archives probably taken in the 1930s. I haven't had time to label the streets yet, and haven't a clue as to which building did what and how they were named or numbered yet. If anyone knows...

post-44235-143137885967_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was in Macauley's offic in 1982, when we had the PAC convention. The hallways and offices were all painted, His office was painted in sort of "Antiquing" off yellow sort of paint, it looked like it was beautiful paneling once, with a natural finish. The Admin. offices were a department of social services office at that time. I went back with a camera during the day, but the rent-a-cop would not allow any pictures to be taken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks twinfour, nice to know when.

Attached is an aerial photo that I know is from 1949, a bit difficult to make out the details in this size, but will help guide any who wish to explore.

Supposedly, the historic marker that was in front of the offices is now located inside of a nearby old school building, currently privately owned. The ex-Emma Thomas Elementary on Concord near E. Grand Blvd.

Another place to visit is the old Ford factory on Piquette, now a museum. This is very near the old E.M.F/Studebaker #1 factory that recently burned down. Too bad the Detroit Historical Museum's extensive car collection is not on display; no money to properly display it or enough room, so it sits in various warehouses.

post-44235-143137885969_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> From the looks of it the antenna must have been down when they rolled it. </div></div>

Nah, They built Strong Antennas in those days. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

That's how they got the car back on it wheels. Just pulled up the antenna and the car flipped back on it's wheels. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hornwrecker,

Looks like there were some residential neighborhoods around the plant and it looks like a park nearby. I have looked at the aerials for a while now, I can't get perspective because I've never been but it looks long and narrow.

Was East Grand a nice street in it's day? Was it on the outskirts? And a lot of posters here are referencing Wayne State University so that much be north of the plant somewhere.

In that one site for additional photos it shows a run down "Packard Motel". I wonder if that was sanctioned by Packard and used to put V.I.P.'s such as dealers visiting up at, or if it was never that nice?

America. The Disposable economy. Move to the suburbs. Leave the inner city. A few years back here in Des Moines, Iowa they were tearing down old buildings in a section of downtown to make way for a new library, a couple of headquarter buildings, etc. In this case, it is a big improvement. Anyway, a demolition of one building revealed a BEAUTIFUL detailed multi color advertisement painted on the next old brick building advertising Hupmobile. It was about 30 feet high by 45 feet wide. It was a work of art. It must have been time warped for at least 60 years since Hupmobile only made a last gasp sales push around 1940.

All the dealers have moved out of downtown Des Moines, but for a time, that was where all the dealers and auto reps/garages were. This would have been right in the mix. I took photos of it and they came out real good but I am not sure how I would post here. Kind of off the subject but the building was reduced to rubble and hauled off just the same. I was just amazed at how preserved it was. We all see these painted advertisements faded on the sides of old brick buildings that are very nostalgic but few looked as vivid as this ad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<span style="font-weight: bold">3Jakes</span>, East Grand Blvd was near the edge of the city limits when the Packard plant was built, it also had some of the grandest homes in the city on it, especially towards the river. To the north, and west of Packard it was heavy industrial that quickly filled in the land near the railroads. EGB is the only street in Detroit that follows its own numbering system, starting on each end from the river, and ending at each side of Woodward.

Attached is a map (from the OCF thread page 1) that I marked the Packard factory (bright green), the former Briggs plant that Packard used in the 50s (red X ), some mystery Packard facility near the river (medium blue), and East Grand Blvd (purple). Wayne State would be to the west of the map, and a bit south of West Grand Blvd, and the GM and Fisher Bldg.

I'd really like to see the Hupmobile, building sign. I just spent a lot of time researching the Hupp plants, so if you can email me a copy, maybe I can get it into the correct size for posting here, or host it somewhere.

post-44235-143137885972_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

Sorry to bring this post and responses back up ttt as they say but I am in the planning stages of a comprehensive trip for next October 2007 leaving Iowa either before or after Hershey to take in as much of the best automotive and historical (including architecture) sites of greater Detroit, Indiana, then Hershey. This will be a 2- 2 1/2 week vacation for me.

But it is very hard to try and google through all the possible sites to see and I don't just want to go to museums. Whjat I would like are some ideas from Detroit area folks about where to go and what to see. I plan on going to the Packard factory, the proving grounds, WP CHrysler museum, Fairlane (Hentry Ford museum) the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, and I checked on the Fisher Mansion, but I guess it's a Indian Hri Krishna Cultural Center???? - it shows it's open until September to the public but not in October.

I see from earlier content on this post that there is a mansion called the Scripps Mansion which I will check out. Any other mansions and landmarks I can check out in a self guided driving tour between museums? I will also be checking out the Diego Rivera frescos at DIA and the Fisher Building.

The key will be in laying an itinerary so that I get the most bang for my buck and am not wasting time driving around hopelessly. I know East Grand is in a bad neighborhood but those are the kind of historical sites I am more interested in then museums.

I hope the Proving Grounds will be open to the public next October.

Through Indiana I will hit the A-C-D museuma nd Studebaker Museum enroute or coming back from Hershey. Any other ideas are welcome. Anybody know whether the Piquette Avenue plant will be accessible next October as a museum or attraction?

Thanks everybody.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3jakes-the Scripps mansion is not accessible much of the year, It is a dry-out home for Nuns who have a little too much sacramental wine and need to go on the wagon. You should absolutely go to Meadowbrook hall, the mansion that John Dodge's widow Matilda built with her new hubby. It's right around the corner from the Walter P. Chrysler museum (stop in my office and say HI)and you should be able to do both in a day. I can get you in a couple of good private collections if you set it up in advance. I can give you the low down on going to the EGB Packard plant--heck, I'll take you there if you want. You should see the Indian Village and Palmer Woods neighborhoods in Detroit, go past the Ford Highland Park plant--it's where the car became something for every man--not just the rich. Go to the Ford Piquette model T-plex on your way to the DIA, and think about going to the Skillman branch of the Detroit public library where the National Automotive Historical collection is housed. When you know what your plans are, send me an email at 56packman(at)twmi(dot)rr(dot) com--or find me in the PAC tent at Hershey. I'll be there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MrPushButton,

I was hoping to hear from you because I figured you were local. It's a lot of work to plan. This is kind of my trip to the HolyLand so like someone actually going to the mideast, I'm not sure when or if I will return so I want to get as much in as possible - plus of course there is no guarantee some of the sights such as EGB will remain forever.

Once I finalize a bit more, I will be in touch. I spent 3 1/2 hours googling and such yesterday so I now I need to start connecting teh dots a little.

Thanks again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...