Detroit has no shortage of old, abandoned buildings, both within the city and in the surrounding communities. Few, though, have the historical significance of the old Ford Highland Park facility. Home to the very first moving assembly line, Highland Park was designed by the legendary Albert Kahn, and was one of the homes of the Model T.

Now, the Woodward Avenue Action Association is attempting to buy both the 40,000-square-foot admin building, which is located off the historic Woodward Avenue, and an 8,000-square-foot garage. The WAAA's goal is to convert the buildings into an automotive heritage center. The Detroit News spoke to the interim director of the WAAA, Deborah Schutt, who commented, "[Metro Detroit has] not been very good at telling our own story. So we've decided, let's pull everything together and tell our story."

The WAAA made an offer of $550,000 to buy the two buildings, and has $400,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation and another $15,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It's trying to raise a further $125,000 through crowd-sourcing, starting a campaign called "Five Dollars A Day," after old Hank Ford's $5-per-day wage for line workers.

The WAAA has until September 19 to collect the money and purchase the building, which is a National Historic Landmark. Those interesting in donating can go here or call 248-288-2004.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      HUMANMPC2000
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here is my spin on this story,If Ford isn't concerned about a big piece of their historical landmarks, why should the public give two cents about it.I would say let Ford pay for it,if not tear it down,and move on.
        the.fog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @HUMANMPC2000
        It's currently in use and not in danger of falling/being torn down.
      SquareFour
      • 1 Year Ago
      My question is, why do they even have to purchase this building at all? I mean, the property is just sitting there rotting away, like so many other "historical" buildings in Detroit, and here comes a group with a plan to do something about it. If it's city owned property, give it to them. If it's Ford owned property, give it to them. If it's privately owned property, give it to them for a share of any future profits. If Detroit is ever going to get back on track, it'll take action, not bullshat.
        the.fog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SquareFour
        RE 2nd comment: Oh, I know... And the article makes the building sound worse than it is. To be fair, the office building DID seem abandoned. But the factory itself, very much in use (in fact, new Fords were being stored there)
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      They could buy the buildings for $550k, but then how much would it cost to actually fix the building up so it is useable? It could easily be several million dollars. How are they going to get that money?
      rkeeeballs
      • 1 Year Ago
      Auto facilities are the new bargain properties.....built to last !
        the.fog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rkeeeballs
        True that... When the Packard plant goes to auction, it'll be a STEAL
      BryanGx
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you want to buy a crappy old building, there are about a thousand abandoned houses in inner-city Detroit you can scoop up for about $100 each.
        MotionDesigner
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BryanGx
        It's not just some crappy old building. This is where the Model T was produced after they moved from the Piquette Plant. Have some respect for the history of your country.
      bryan.zamora17
      • 1 Year Ago
      If it was such as historic site that was attached to Ford, why not just tell Ford Motor Co. to purchase it, refurb it and sell tours out of it.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bryan.zamora17
        I'm sure Ford would be glad to do that if someone were willing to pay for the purchase, renovation, maintenance and operation costs. Ford runs tours elsewhere -- surely they wouldn't want to invest much for a competing Ford tour site.
      gasaraki88
      • 1 Year Ago
      Come on get with the times. Who's going to call in and donate? Get this on Kickstarter or something.
      frank1946
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ford has a Community Action Group.................get on the Agenda ! Call World Headquarters in Dearborn, MI. Or ask Alan over for Lunch !
      Gordon Chen
      • 1 Year Ago
      Instead of a heritage center, they should put manufacturing jobs here and have it do what it was known to do. Not just cars, but could also computers, toys, clothing, etc.
        caddy-v
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gordon Chen
        Good luck trying to get some manufacturer that is willing to pay the highest corporate tax's in the world.
      Sorten Borten
      • 1 Year Ago
      Half a million for an abandoned property? Are there competitive bids? Seems like they shouldn't have offered so much, given how desperate Detroit is for people to move in and occupy dead buildings.
        the.fog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Sorten Borten
        It's not abandoned. That was thrown in for the sake of drama.
      Ed Menninger
      • 1 Year Ago
      The first moving assembly line wasn't at the Ford plant in Highland Park. Rather, it first happened at the American Car and Foundry. At ACF, they naturally used railroad tracks to move the railroad cars from work station to work station. Henry Ford actually visited the ACF company to view their operations and sent engineers to also view their assembly line. Ford naturally used the same concept of using rail tracks to move the cars to the various work stations. Ford Motor continues to perpetuates the idea that Ford was the first to use assembly lines but history should give credit to those for whom it is due. Right?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ed Menninger
        [blocked]
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