One of the last (possibly the last) Ford assembly plant, with the facade in Ford's Classical style, was built in Wellington, New Zealand in 1936.
The building looked like others in other countries. It was a very new and innovative design for New Zealand. However, in the Ford world, these plants had the same architectural designer, Albert Kahn, and they were all pretty much the same.
Ford exited their Seaview plant in 1988 and the land and buildings were sold soon after. The building is now owned by one of Wellington's prominent property owners and he has been putting a lot of money and resource into preserving his building.
I found myself in the really privileged position of being able to see inside the former Ford plant a couple of days ago. It was a very impromptu opportunity and the only camera I had was my phone. Below are a couple of the photos that members may be interested in seeing.
In talking with the chaps doing the work, they wondered how many of these buildings still exist in the world? I don't know - but I suspect it is not many.
Ford had plants that looked like this in Australia (plus Geelong), South Africa, Asia and, of course, Canada and all over the United States.
QUESTION: How many of these plants still exist in the world, as recognisable former Ford assembly plants?
A very early photo of the newly-built Seaview plant:
Outside the front of the crane bay, showing the extent of the current work:
Inside the front of the crane bay, showing the new earthquake strengthening:
The magnificent gantry cranes in the crane bay:
The body-building area of the plant, beside the crane bay; the wall wasn't there when the plant was operating - it was all open-plan.; note the effective lighting:
The rest of the plant beyond that wall shown in the last photo, showing the new framing, and original sky light roof (again, note the effective lighting):
As you can see, much effort is going in to the preservation of this building, and retaining its character and soul.
If you are aware of the existence of other such former Ford buildings, please would you simply say below where they are please.
We still have one here in Denver that is an office building now. I have original photos and modern. I will dig them up and post them.
Thank you Mark 'n Mark!
On searching Google I found what is left of the Jacksonville FL plant (photos taken a while ago) and looking sad.
Also, theres a couple of references to the MTFCA Forum, including a discussion here...
The Ford assembly plant in Charlotte NC was built in 1924, and used by Ford through 1932. The property was then sold to the US Army and used as a quartermaster depot. Later on was used by the Army to build missiles during the cold war. The buildings are now used as an industrial center. The main building built by Ford still looks much the same other than the large windows now being filled with brick. only the boiler building looks the same as Ford left it in 1932.
I've posted this before...
This is the Arabi, LA Ford assembly plant (New Orleans) that operated from 1923-32.
Our Model T is getting its restoration only a few blocks away from this building.
The assembly plant in North Fremantle (Leighton) just south of Perth Western Australia is still standing but the land destined for future Apartment buildings. Itís been there since about 1925 ish. Again, typical Ford appearance
Alan in Western Australia
Both Ford factory buildings still exist in Seattle. The model t assembly building is now re-purposed as a mini storage building. If you look close you can see the Ford script outline on the face of the building. For a number of years the large Ford script was still visible on the water tower on the top of the building.
The second building built in 1926/27,is still standing, also re-purposed as a federal office building. This assembly plant was in use only a few months as a model a assembly facility. As I remember the story 9 months and then Ford shut it down.
The two plants in Toronto Canada still exist. I've been in both of them. The first one is restored and has Model Ts inside and old photos of the plant on display. The later plant is a largely unrecognizable shopping mall. The Long Island City plant in New York where my car was built is standing and restored although I've never been there yet.
The Houston assembly plant on Harrisburg Blvd. is still in place. It has been used for multiple businesses over the years. One I'm familiar with was a Coffee factory. You got a caffeine high every time
you drove past it.
The Milwaukee plant is still there, but has been re-purposed. It is at 2185 N Prospect and still looks like a ford plant from the outside
More info I posted previously on the Toronto plants.
John, What is the planned use of the building?
The T assembly plant in Dallas was sold to the Adams Hat company where they made, you guessed it, hats. It is now the Adams Hats loft apartments. I remember visiting it during the conversion to apartments. The apartments are all around the perimeter of the building, and center sections of each of the 5 or 6 floors were cut out to make an atrium, reminicent of Embassy Suites. A workman I spoke to said cutting the concrete out for the atrium took longer than expected, due to the hardness of the concrete. Ford left that building for a new plant built on Grand Avenue just in time to start building the Model A. That plant looks very similar to the NZ plant pictured at the top. Itís still there and being used, though for what I donít know.
I believe the Oklahoma City building is still there. It was long used by the Fred Jones organization for their engine and transmission rebuilding operations.
When I started covering Nebraska for my field job with Ford I spotted the Omaha plant building on my first visit downtown. It looks near identical to the Dallas Ford/Adam Hat building. That building was used by the Tip Top curler manufacturing operation, and they painted their name on the water tower. Over time that paint peeled, allowing you to just make out the Ford script originally applied to the tower. It was converted to loft apartments like the Dallas plant.
Kansas City still has a two line (F series and full size Transit) plant in operation today. Operations were moved there in the early 50ís from a plant complex on the east side of downtown. Much of that plant complex is still there but I donít know how it is currently being used. There are still 4 smokestacks, where you can make out the faint lettering spelling F O R D, one for each stack.
Thank you all for the input so far. It is wonderful. And it is a great help in answering the question. You are providing so many clues and thoughts.
Brass car guy in Maltby - I saw the old Seattle plant using Google and see what you mean.
David Dewey - I don't know. I'm not even certain that the owner knows!
Gary Blake - I've tried searching for photos of the Dallas plant but Google is being uncooperative. Which is a shame because you say it looks a lot like the New Zealand plant. However, I did easily find the 4-storey Oklahoma City building; and the 5-storey Omaha, Nebraska plant.
Alan in WA - I was sent photos of the Fremantle plant last year, after the Fremantle Doctor had done his work crushing cars. You may know what I'm talking about. Is the future of that building safe?
Thanks so much to everyone - please, keep 'em coming!
Not sure of the future of this building but as mentioned there was talk of apartments being built there
PS we are coming to NZ to catch up with Tom Stevens early next year and May bring you a brick from the building!
Cheers Alan in WA
The one in Atlanta GA still exists. Been turned into lofts.
Glad to help. This is very interesting to me also. I see what you are talking about with Google not being helpful with the second Dallas plant. From what I can tell in my searching, the complex has been subdivided among at least two different businesses and so neither may use the original Ford street address. Iíll keep trying.
The T plant in the building which still retains the Adam Hats signage (which I suspect covers the Ford Motor Company script cast into the concrete blocks) is apparently now a part of the Deep Ellum Lofts organization. Their website has a photo gallery which includes a few photos of properties I am quite sure are not the Ford plant. Still interesting. Gallery here:
I forgot to mention the T plant is on the corner of Canton and Henry ;) street.
Iíll keep looking for a way to get some pics of the second plant.
The one in St. Louis has also been turned into lofts.
Copy and paste the following in a Google image search:
dallas ford motor company plant on grand avenue
For me it yielded a few pics of the second plant and a lot more of the Dallas T plant and others, including what I think is the Omaha plant. I think you will see the similarities in the architecture with the NZ plant. Lots of early dealer pics too.
The one in Jacksonville Fl. is still there.....
The Los Angeles assembly plant is being restored, and repurposed. It still has the original water tank on the roof. It is supposed to reopen this coming year for business.
The large vertical Minneapolis assembly plant that was completed in 1914 still survives. Ford quit making cars there in 1925 when the Twin Cities Assembly Plant was completed in St. Paul. It recently underwent a major renovation and is now office space.
The small St. Paul branch on University Ave completed in 1914 still survives.
The Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul that was completed in 1925 and where Ford vehicles were assembled until 2011 was torn down a few years ago. This was sprawling complex on a large campus. They are still doing pollution clean up. Right now, the plan is to redevelop the land for housing and retail.
This is the London Ontario Canada Model T assembly plant,now a law firm.However they know of the history of the building as there are pictures from the model T era on the wall in the entrance.
The Homebush Plant in Sydney is still there and recognisable as a Ford Plant. I don't know what it is used for now, but remember when it still produced cars.
The Singapore plant is now a museum remembering the fall of Singapore to the Japanese during WW2. The surrender took place in the meeting room at the plant and the room has been preserved as it was on that day. The Office area is the museum, the assembly area has been converted to housing. If you visit Singapore it is well worth seeing.
The Jacksonville FL Ford assembly plant still is standing today, only in very sad shape. The property was purchased by a Miami developer in 2015 but nothing in the works yet.
This webpage shows a great photo of the Ford workers outside the building, in the far right background are some newly assembled Ford T's. In the heyday this plant was assembling 200 Model T Fords!
Click on the lower hot link at the bottom of this webpage for a photo tour inside from about 2010.
This article for the Philadelphia assembly plant has been discussed here before:
I believe the Chester, Pennsylvania assembly plant that superseded the Philadelphia plant still exists in one form or another. It's not surprising you can't find any modern day photos of it on the web. A Google Street View of 800 W. Front St. will get you as good a look as you can without unnecessarily putting yourself at risk for personal injury!
I don't know where the administration building was in relation to that but my guess is it is probably gone.
The Stockholm assembly plant (built 1929-31) still stands, but has been completely rebuilt on the inside and now houses the Stockholm stock exchange..
Ok so here are a couple of photos of the plant then and now. The last photo is of my friend Frank who worked at the plant as a mold maker for Ford back in the day. That photo was taken a long time ago of coarse, he was almost 100 then. He had shared some stories and photos with me before he passed.
Forgot to say that is one of my earlier T's from many years back. (24 c-cab).
The Ford assembly plant in Richmond Ca is still standing and has been renovated. After being heavily damaged in the '89 Loma Prieta earthquake, it went thru several redevelopment efforts before being rebuilt. Many parts of the movie "Tucker" were filmed here- the assembly line scenes in the movie were filmed in what is now called Craneway Pavillion. Movie sets for other scenes in the Tucker movie like Preston Tucker's office (Jeff Bridges) office were built in other areas of the plant. The Bay Area Horseless Carriage Club provided cars for many of the early scenes. If you google "www.craneway.com", there are some great shots and some additional history of this plant that was built in 1931 or so. I worked in this building from about 1983 until the earthquake rendered the building uninhabitable. I still have an 1 1/2" diameter steel rivet out of the structural steel that snapped in half during the shaking.
The plant above (Denver) was opened in 1913. Across the street was the Colorado Tire and Leather Company founded by Gates Sr. Later this became the Gates Rubber Company. Production stopped in 1918 for the war. (23 of Fords 29 plants were shut down for the same reason). In 1923 Production resumed in Denver (160 cars a day). The plant was closed in 1947.
I grew up a few blocks from here in Portland, Oregon (Orygun for Mark).
This building is on SE 11th and Division Streets.
It used to have a water tower on the roof.
I never knew this was a Ford assembly plant.
Don't forget Piquette! And they are still assembling Model T's there.
A little ways northerly is Highland Park too.
Oklahoma City's assembly plant is still here, and has very recently been converted to a 21C Hotel. In fact, the electrical company I was working for at the time was doing the electrical work on it. Unfortunately, I never got to be on that job. Sure wish I could have...
Winnipeg Canada the plant is still standing it,s a government building now
The Winnipeg plant was built in 1915
Don't have a picture but one still stands in East side of Indianapolis.
Wow, that building has held up well, very nice!
brass car guy, any pics of the older Seattle assembly plant?
My 22 Touring was most probably assembled there.
Drove past the old Ford Plant in North Fremantle and it has been surrounded in scaffolding. This may indicate they are repairing the storm damage after all.
A real shame if it is demolished as I spent many hours inside that building at the Ford School and my Father who worked there for over 40 years
Alan in Western Australia
See the following for info and images about the Seattle plant(s):
...and from Wikipedia, the following about John Graham, the architect of the Seattle plant and some of the other Ford assembly plants:
John Graham was born in Liverpool, England in 1873. He apprenticed as an architect in England as a young man. First visiting Seattle, Washington, in 1896, he immigrated to the United States in 1900, starting a one-man architectural practice in Seattle. He started off modestly, designing mainly industrial-related buildings and private residences. His first notable project was designing the reconstruction of the Trinity Parish Church at Eight Avenue and James Street in 1902 after it had been damaged by fire.
After a brief partnership with Alfred Bodley in 1904, Graham founded the firm of Graham & Myers with David J. Myers in 1906. He would work with Myers until 1910. As architect for the Ford Motor Company, he designed more than 30 of Ford's assembly plants between 1912 and 1940. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, he would design hundreds of commercial and public buildings in the Seattle area including the Frederick & Nelson store (now Nordstrom) in 1916. He also helped found the Seattle Yacht Club.
The Somerville MA assembly plant (1926-1958) is still there. It has been repurposed into what is now the Assembly Square shopping mall
The Cincinnati OH plant has been restored in the last 10 years or so. Has a T on display in the lobby.
In surveying this thread, I haven't seen mention of the Kearny, New Jersey plant, which began production in 1918 and appears to have assembled more Model Ts than any other Ford plant, including those in Detroit, in the period 1921-27.
I believe the Kearny factory was acquired by Western Electric in 1930 and was used to produce phone hardware until 1983 or so.
Does the Kearny factory still exist?
Also, I found the following item, perhaps of interest:
The Milwaukee plant that Dave Hjortnaes referred to above does indeed still stand and has been used for many other purposes over the years. Most recently known as the Kenilworth Building for obvious reasons, it was purchased by the University of Wisconsin system in the 60s or 70s and was a storage warehouse for many years. Recently, it underwent a multimillion dollar renovation and is now art studios, offices and even a performance space for the UWM Fine Arts Department. I have been in the building many times and it is built like a fortress; lots of heavy poured concrete columns and supports. It was built to last! The number of these old buildings still standing and re-purposed fits right in with Ford's "built to last" philosophy. "Built Ford Tough"? Some months ago there was a similar thread regarding this building. I looked for interior photos from when the Ts were being built but could never find any.
I really appreciate all the input from everyone and please do keep it coming.
Neil McKay - thank you for the link to the related question posed to The Henry Ford. That is a great place to anyone start looking for information about any local assembly plant in the U.S.
Did ya kinda' notice that they look a lot alike?
They look alike because the same architect, John Graham of Seattle, designed most of them in USA. (Not Albert Kahn).
Like the T, the first one worked so build more the same!!
Model T plant near downtown Dallas. Became Adam Hat factory after the plant relocated to a new, larger building east of downtown Dallas. Building still stands in all of its glory, but accomodates nice loft apartments.
See the following thread for information about the Long Island assembly plant that was replaced in 1918 by the Kearny, NJ assembly plant: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/229231.html?1313254424
The Kearny assembly operations were moved to the "Edgewater" assembly plant in 1930.
Are there any photos of the Kearny plant (1918-1930)?