For years, thousands of commuters on Woodward Avenue in the Detroit enclave of Highland Park have driven past a sturdy, red-brick building, long-closed but not a ruin. Few of them likely suspect this was the place where modern industrial America was born.
A century ago, this was the Albert Kahn-designed world headquarters of Ford Motor Co. Millions of Model Ts roared out of the factory behind this building, putting America on wheels. But the automaker left long ago, and in the years since, nothing has been done with one of the most important sites in transportation history — until now.
Last month, a nonprofit group called the Woodward Avenue Action Association bought the building, which it intends to convert by 2018 into a museum and mixed-use development.
Group members hope their effort will help spur economic growth in Highland Park, which is grimmer than Detroit. The idea is both to honor history and to use the latest in green technology to help build a future.
One proposal would have a hologram of Henry Ford conducting tours. True, he once said that “history is more or less bunk.” But if this project works out, we think his spirit would be pleased.