[All Pictures by Michelle & Chris Gerard]
If you're looking for a venue for a wedding or event, you won't get much more Detroit than the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. Built in 1904, the Piquette Plant is where the Model T was born. Fearing demo in the late 90s, a historic preservation group came together to save and restore the Plant. Now it serves as a museum, event space, and a car and history lover's paradise.
The three-story building was designed by Field, Hinchman & Smith and was the second home for Ford Motor Company. Ford built Models B, C, F, K, N, R, S, and T here. The Model T was developed here, and the first 12,000 were assembled in the Plant and shipped out by railroad. Ford relocated to the Highland Park Plant in 1910, then Studebaker used the Piquette Plant for automobile production until 1933. The Plant was then occupied by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company and Cadillac Overall Company until purchased by Heritage Investment Company in 1989.
When zoning around the area changed in 1997, Preservationist Jerald Mitchell asked for help from the Henry Ford Heritage Association to see if they could save the building. Three years later, the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex was incorporated as a non-profit. The Plant is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It's a designated National Historic Landmark and a Michigan State Historic Site.
Henry Ford's office was in the front of the plant on the second floor. Volunteers worked to match carpeting, wallpaper, and furniture to recreate what his office would have looked like.
Built before the era of industrial lighting, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant has 355 windows. Guardian Glass donated new windows to replace the old ones. A volunteer work crew, The Window Team, is currently rebuilding each window by hand, using Guardian Glass, in its own workspace on the second floor. To date, the team has rebuilt 275 window units.
The Model T was developed in an experimental room on the third floor. This space recreates this area, complete with a drafting table, some tools, a chalkboard, and a rocking chair.
Not all areas are open to the public. A worn down staircase surrounded by bricks connects the floors in the back of the building. A ladder leads to an even harder to get to storage space. Standing on the landing, you can imagine the workers running up and down the stairs so many years ago.
The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant holds events such as weddings, parties, and a birthday tea for Clara Ford. It's currently open for special occasions and tours by appointment. Its regular hours start back up in April.