When you think Ford Museum in Michigan, the first one that comes to mind is the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. If you haven’t been to this huge museum before, it may come as a surprise there aren’t all that many historic Ford vehicles on display or much to be found about the history of the Ford Motor Company. The Piquette Plant is a much smaller museum and not as well known as the one in Dearborn. But it only has been a museum since 2000 and definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in automotive and / or Detroit history
The Ford Plant on Piquette Avenue was the second home of the Ford Motor Company and was in operation from 1904 through 1910. That’s not a long time in automotive history but it is significant because it is the place where the Model T was developed and first produced. There were 12,000 Model T’s manufactured at this location until Ford moved production to the much larger Highland Park Ford Plant in Detroit.
The museum is located at 411 Piquette Avenue and it is about 4 miles north of downtown Detroit. The area seems generally safe but it is probably best not to venture too far from the museum on foot. The parking area is gated and seems safe. There also are some other business near the museum so not to worry about parking your car there. The museum is on the second and third floors. The fist floor is occupied by a linen and uniform company. The ugly building that is attached to the historic plant houses a record center for the Henry Ford Health System.
The museum is open from April through October. Plan a few hours for your visit. Guides will take you on a tour through the museum and explain more about the cars on display and the history of the plant. Find more details about the history and visitor information on their website: http://www.tplex.org/
They have done a great job on restoring the exterior of the museum to its original condition. Graffiti vandals don’t have respect for anything and it is sad to see the exterior on Beaubien Street hasn’t been spared. But without putting a fence around it, there is not much they can do about it. Many other motor city landmarks like the Packard Plant are abandoned and slowly decaying so it is good to see this historic site is preserved for the future.
An historic picture of what factory looked like a century ago.
The walls, floors and ceiling are pretty much the same as they were when Fords were manufactured here. There is quite a large number of Fords on display and it goes beyond this post to describe them or post pictures of them all. All the more reason to visit this place yourself.
The Experimental Room is in the back on the third floor. From a display sign:
Here in this 12 x 15 ft room, Henry Ford and his colleagues developed the design concepts for the car that changed the world. In early 1907, draftsman Joseph Galamb set up blackboards and a drafting table in this room to convert Henry Ford’s design ideas into blueprints. Ford spent hours and hours discussing and supervising development operations sitting in a rocking chair. The room became the maternity ward for the Model T. From this little corner room came the first Model T, a prototype which is shown above. During the following 19 years, from factories on Piquette Avenue and in Highland Park, and assembly plants all over the world, came 15,000,000 more.