Ford’s Piquette Plant building, the birthplace of the Model T Ford one hundred years ago, is being restored and is open to the public.
Ford’s Piquette Plant building, the birthplace of the Model T Ford one hundred years ago, is being restored and is open to the public. Click image to enlarge

Dearborn, Michigan – Ford’s Piquette Plant building, the birthplace of the Model T Ford one hundred years ago, is being restored and is open to the public. The three-story brick building, on the corner of Piquette and Beaubien Streets in Detroit’s New Center neighbourhood, is now known as the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex, or “T-Plex” for short.

As part of the festivities celebrating the 100th birthday of the Model T, coats of paint and years of grime are being removed from the building’s exterior, while a large historic marker and period-correct signage is being installed. Most of the work is being done by a group of historians, car buffs and volunteers. The building will be open for tours.

Designed in the style of a New England mill factory, the T-Plex was the site where Ford first experimented with the idea of a moving assembly line; in the Experimental Room, on the third floor, the Model T was developed in 1907 and 1908. Henry Ford’s office space is marked off, and contains an exact replica of his wooden desk and wastebasket. Displays and information panels throughout the building showcase the models built there, including a display showing five Model Ts in various stages of assembly.

The plant was built in 1904 and produced the Models B, C, F, K, N, R and S, before Ford concentrated on a sturdy, low-cost automobile. Even before the first T was built, Ford knew it would be a success and would overwhelm the plant, and in 1908, construction began on the Highland Park plant where Model T production moved in January 1910. A year later, Ford sold Piquette to the Studebaker Corporation; it was later used by the 3M Corporation and the Cadillac Overall Company. Threatened with demolition in the late 1990s, it was purchased in 2000 and is now the only well-preserved automobile factory in Detroit that dates to the industry’s earliest years.

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