Detroit’s Packard Motors Plant is a massive factory complex designed by Albert Kahn and built by Henry Joy in 1907. Work areas around the main buildings were completed in 1911. Kahn’s industrial designs stood out for meeting modern requirements for mass manufacturing processes. Reinforced concrete structures were essential for fire resistance and load bearing capacity for heavy machinery required for making cars. Ford’s Highland Park Plant, and the Fisher 21 Body Plant share similar design and functional elements.
From the early 1920’s influential car companies such as Ford, Studebaker, EMF, Hudson, Hupp, Pierce Arrow, General Motors and Continental Motors had operating plants in Detroit. Many plants were located near the railways which would transport finished cars throughout the US domestic market. The Great Depression of the 1930’s destroyed many of these companies as they were forced to merge with other companies or go bankrupt.
Packard also made fighter engines for the allies in World War II. In spite lucrative military contracts, Packard and many other companies could not recover from the previous decade, and faded away into history. Packard Motors famous promotional tagline was “Packard ask a man who owns one”. To this day Packard cars have a rabid following, however the factory that made them has not been protected by heritage status.
This trip turned out to be the final expedition at the Packard Plant. Numerous fires and recycling of building materials severely damaged the structural integrity of the site. Restoration of this historic industrial facility seems unlikely.