WRITTEN HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE DATA
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY
Location: Milwaukee Junction, Detroit, Michigan
The survey boundaries are Woodward Avenue on the west and St. Aubin on the east. The southern boundary is marked by the Grand Trunk Western railroad line, which runs just south of East Baltimore from Woodward past St. Aubin. The northern boundary of the survey starts on the west end at East Grand Boulevard, runs east along the boulevard to Russell, moves north along Russell to Euclid, and extends east along Euclid to St. Aubin.
Significance: The area known as Milwaukee Junction, located just north of Detroit’s city center, was a center of commercial and industrial activity for more than a century. Milwaukee Junction served, if not as the birthplace of American automobile manufacturing, then as its nursery. In addition to the Ford Motor Company and General Motors, many early auto manufacturers and their support services (especially body manufacturers like the Fisher Brothers, C.R. Wilson, and Trippensee Auto Body) were also located in the area, probably because of the proximity of the railroads.
Historians: Kenneth Shepherd and Richard Sucré, 2003
Project Information: The Historic American Engineering Record conducted a survey of Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction, a center of auto and related industrial production, in summer 2003. The City of Detroit and the city’s Historic Designation Advisory Board sponsored the survey. Richard O’Connor, HAER, served as project leader. The field team included historians Kenneth Shepherd and Richard Sucré. Justine Christianson, HAER Historian, edited the report. Jet Lowe, HAER Photographer, produced large-format photographs of select sites. These include:
HAER MI-333, 1900 East Milwaukee (Industrial Building) HAER MI-334, Ivan Doverspike Company HAER MI-336, The Fairmount Creamery Corporation HAER MI-337, Pioneer Building HAER MI-340, American Can Company HAER MI-343, Russell Industrial Center HAER MI-345, Murray Body Company Complex HAER MI-351, New Center Stamping HAER MI-352, National Can Company HAER MI-353, Ford Service Building HABS MI-443, Engine Company Nos. 11 & 28 Firehouse
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 2)
Chronology: 1837 Milwaukee Junction begins to be defined by the Pontiac Railroad (later the Detroit & Milwaukee), which runs from the waterfront to Pontiac along Dequindre.
1899 Construction of F. A. Thompson Manufacturing Company (1962 Trombly), the oldest surviving building within the survey boundaries.
1908 The three Trippensee brothers build a plant at 2679 East Grand Boulevard to produce their famous planetariums. Their wood and metalworking skills lead them to expand into auto body manufacture, and the factory is enlarged for this purpose in 1915.
1909 Detroit Wire Spring Company builds a factory at 1900 Marston. This plant was later absorbed into the Murray Body Corporation as its fender division. Albert Kahn designs and builds the Boulevard Building (7310 Woodward) for the Ford Motor Company as its service headquarters. The building is enlarged in 1913.
1911 The building housing the Anderson Electric Car Company (now Russell Industrial Center, Building 2 at 1610 Clay) is erected. An Art Stove Company storeroom opens at 6500 Russell.
1916 National Can Company (later the George C. Wetherbee Company) constructs a factory at what is now 2566 East Grand Boulevard. American Can Company also opens its doors at 1400 Trombly.
1918 Richard Brothers Die Works (later Allied Products Corporation) builds their plant at 1560 Milwaukee.
1919 Construction of C.R. Wilson Body Company Building 5 (1666 Clay), now part of the Russell Industrial Center, notable for its unique curved façade facing the railroad.
1920 Construction of C.R. Wilson Body Company Buildings 1 (1600 Clay), 1A (1604 Clay), and 4 (1630 Clay), all now part of the Russell Industrial Center. The Detroit Machine & Tool Company opens its doors at 6545 St. Antoine.
1922 Construction of C.R. Wilson Body Company Buildings 4A (1640 Clay) and 4B (1650 Clay), both now part of the Russell Industrial Center. Construction of Fisher Body Stamping Plant (Plant #37), 950 Milwaukee, now New Center Stamping.
1923 Construction begins on a new building for the Murray Body Corporation—Body Division, designed by Albert Kahn (now Russell Industrial Center, Building 3, DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 3)
1614 Clay). An addition to the structure is completed in 1929. Richard Brothers Die Works also opens a new factory on Lyman Place in this year.
1925 The National Drill Twist Company constructs its factory at 1925 Clay. J.W. Murray Manufacturing buys the C.D. Widman Company, manufacturers of auto bodies, mirrors, and glass products.
1926 The building housing the McCord Manufacturing Supply Company and Springman Paper Supply Company opens at 1579 East Milwaukee.
1928 The Detroit Fire Company, Engine Company No. 28 and Ladder Company No. 11 opens at 1475 East Milwaukee.
1929 The Boyer-Campbell Company opens its new machine tools factory at 6540 St. Antoine. The Fairmount Creamery moves into its building at 608 East Milwaukee.
1947 Frank Brothers Iron Works (later the Peschke Packing Company) builds their plant at 2600 East Grand Boulevard.
Introduction Milwaukee Junction received its name from the meeting of two of Michigan’s earliest railways. The oldest of these was the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee line, which was a lineal descendent of the Detroit & Pontiac Railroad, originally incorporated in 1834. By 1855, the line was running trains between the two southeastern Michigan cities. The line was reorganized as the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee in 1878 and merged with the Canadian Grand Trunk Western line in 1928. The second of the two lines that met in Detroit at Milwaukee Junction was the old Michigan Central line. First chartered by the Michigan legislature in 1846, the line acquired the charter of the Central line, one of the first three parallel lines to cross the state from east to west.1 New York Central leased Michigan Central beginning in 1930 for an extended period, but in 1961, the line’s assets began to be divided among different companies. In 1978, Penn Central received much of what remained of Michigan Central, but when that line went bankrupt, some of its assets went to Consolidated Rail, or ConRail.2
1 The early railroads appear on at least four maps of Detroit published between 1837 and 1889, the date when the area begins to be covered by Sanborn insurance maps. See “City of Detroit, Michigan, from late and accurate Surveys, May 1837,” in Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001), 202; Sylvester Wesley Higgins, “Map of Wayne County” (Cincinnati: Doolittle & Munson, ); S. Augustus Mitchell, “Plan of the City of Detroit, 1882”; Atlas of the City of Detroit, Michigan (New York: E. Robinson, 1885); and Sanborn Insurance Company, Insurance Maps of Detroit, Michigan (New York: Sanborn Insurance Company, 1889-2001). Of the railroads appearing on these maps, the Dequindre line of the Grand Trunk (the old Pontiac Railroad) appears on all five maps or collections. The old Michigan Central Line, approaching Milwaukee Junction from the west, appears only on Mitchell’s map, the Robinson atlas, and on Sanborn maps, from which it can be concluded that Milwaukee Junction came into existence between 1840 and 1882. 2 Graydon M. Meints, Michigan Railroads and Railroad Companies (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1992), 170-71, 176-77, 182-83. For the purposes of this report, Michigan Central refers to the lines originally owned DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 4)
Background The presence of the railroads did not immediately make Milwaukee Junction an auto manufacturer’s paradise. Early major industries in the area were related either to the railroad itself (the Peninsula Car Company, located just south of the survey area, built cars for the railroad beginning in the late nineteenth century) or the food industry. The latter included such local specialty shops as the Michigan Celery Beverage Company, the Peschke Sausage Company, and several dairy and milk-processing plants, including the Clover Milk Company and its successor, the J. Schlaff Creamery Company (both at 105 East Baltimore), the State Creamery Company (at the corner of East Grand and DuBois), and the Fairmount Creamery. Most of the buildings that housed these companies have been destroyed, but the Fairmount Creamery remains as a reminder of this era in Detroit’s history.
The industry that benefitted the nascent auto manufacturers the most was the carriage building trade. Early carriage builders included the Anderson Carriage Company, the C.R. and J.C. Wilson Carriage Company, and the Johnson Carriage Company, which was in business at 101 East Baltimore before 1905 and remained in business until nearly 1920.3 The skilled wood and metal workers in the carriage trade quickly applied their talents to making automobile bodies. This led to the development of new businesses specializing in the production of bodies for automobiles, such as the Fisher Brothers, Trippensee Closed Body Company, the C.R. Wilson Body Company, and the Murray Body Corporation of America. These companies supplied bodies to both major and minor companies, including Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Chrysler, Hupp, Reo, and DeSoto.
Before the arrival of the automotive industry, Milwaukee Junction was largely residential, and residences and small businesses still make up a significant proportion of the area.4 Residents were not all transient auto workers who moved on to other jobs within a few years. For example, Mrs. Martha F. Insko is listed in the Detroit City Directory in 1915 as living at 75 (now 215) East Baltimore. By 1920, she had moved around the corner to 6400 Brush, where she continued to live until at least 1935. Dr. Tobias Sigel maintained an office at 2916 East Grand Boulevard from 1910 into the 1930s. Zenon P. Lapinckas ran his barber shop at 455 East Milwaukee from 1910 through at least 1935. Both Mrs. Insko’s Brush Street residence and Dr. Sigel’s office on East Grand Boulevard are still standing and still serving their original purposes.
The foodservice industry has been an important component of Milwaukee Junction’s history. Many saloons and bars flourished in the area, including Karpinsky’s (1412 Clay, adjacent to the Russell Industrial Center), the Twenty-Five Club Tavern (29-35 East Baltimore), Major Raymond’s Saloon (17 East Baltimore), and Ed’s Bar (451 East Milwaukee). Thomas J. Sborsky’s restaurant served drinks at 446 East Milwaukee during the 1920s. The Y & B Market,
by that corporation, and Grand Trunk refers to the lines currently owned by that corporation. The 2001 Sanborn maps document the existence of a third line in the Milwaukee Junction area, tentatively identified as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, heir to the old Michigan Southern line established in 1836. See Meints, Michigan Railroads, 172-73, and Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 2001. That line was absorbed into the Michigan Central Railroad in 1915, so in this report, it will be considered part of the Michigan Central. 3 Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 1905-1915; Detroit City Directory (Detroit: R.L. Polk, 1905-1970). 4 All of the information in this paragraph is derived either from Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 1905-2001, or Detroit City Directory, 1905-1970. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 5)
a grocery/convenience store, opened at 6526 John R. in 1932, and it remains in operation. The junction also boasted its own movie theater and dance hall, the “Latin Quarter,” at 3067 East Grand Boulevard.
Even as late as the 1950s, new industries were moving into Milwaukee Junction. One of the most successful was the photographic industry, and there were several independent photographers operating out of the area. Howard J. Hite opened a studio at 95 East Baltimore during the 1930s, Fred Holgate ran his from 2894 East Grand Boulevard for at least ten years from 1925 through 1935, and Beatrice Zwaan opened hers at the still-extant building at 3065 East Grand Boulevard. The largest and most successful, however, was the Jam Handy Organization, which opened on Grand Boulevard in 1930. Jam Handy produced and distributed films and photographs, and it remained in business until the 1960s.
Significant Buildings 1600 Clay (see HAER MI-343 and HAER MI-345 for large-format photography) Anderson Electric Car Company, C.R. Wilson Body Company, and Murray Body Corporation— Body Division (now Russell Industrial Center) The Russell Industrial Center consists of eight buildings (most dating to the 1920s) that are associated with the early automobile industry.5 C. R. Wilson Body Company was responsible for erecting most of the extant buildings on this site, including Building 1 (1920), Building 1A (1920), Building 4 (1920), Building 4A and 4B (1922), and Building 5 (1919). Many are connected on the upper stories by reinforced-concrete bridges.
Constructed in 1920 for the Anderson Electric Car Company, Building 1 is a five-story reinforced-concrete factory building with a twelve-bay façade facing Clay Avenue. The first- floor window openings have been bricked in, while the other floors have a mixture of factory or glass-block windows. There is a one-story CMU addition with a loading dock constructed in 1951 and a four-story corrugated-metal bump out on the west façade.
Building 1A, built 1920-23, is a five-story reinforced-concrete structure. The main façade fronts Russell Avenue and features brick corner towers and decorative stone accents on the upper stories. Factory windows fill the majority of the openings throughout the building. There is a large water tower atop the building. A loading dock was built in 1961. Records indicate the Murray Corporation occupied the building with assembling taking place on the second and third floors and painting on the fourth and fifth floors.
The four-story, reinforced-concrete Building 2 dates to 1911 and was the home of the Anderson Electric Car Company. The brick-faced main façade fronts Russell Avenue. An addition was constructed in 1921. Anderson Electric Car Company and then the Murray Corporation used this structure for assembling.
5 General information about the history of the Russell Industrial Center is drawn from Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 1889-2001; Detroit City Directory, 1905-70. For the Anderson Electric Car Company and its successors, see Tom Kleene, “Electrics Lost Their Support,” Detroit Free Press, November 26, 1981, and Robert G. Szudarek, How Detroit Became the Automotive Capital (Warren MI: Typocraft Company, 1996), 104-41. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 6)
Albert Kahn designed Building 3 in 1923, with a later addition from 1929. This seven-story reinforced-concrete and steel factory building has an L-shaped plan and fronts Russell Avenue. There are brick corner towers on the south and west faces and decorative stone accents on the upper stories. There is a concrete block stair tower on the south façade. Murray Corporation used the seventh floor for lacquer spraying.
The six-story reinforced-concrete Building 4 was completed in 1920 by Essel, Styn, Murphy & Hanford. The main façade is on Clay Avenue and features red brick and decorative stone accents. There is a herringbone pattern above each window bay on the street façade above the fifth floor. The upper stories feature a decorative stone cornice line and moldings. The first and second floors are clad in corrugated-metal paneling on the street façade and bricked in on all other faces.
Building 4A and 4B was erected in 1922. The seven-story structure is contained within the courtyard of the Russell Industrial Center complex. The fenestration is comprised of factory windows. The first floor of the east façade has a one-story addition. There are two stair towers on the east façade that rise above the entire building. In 1951, Murray Corporation used the first floor as a metal department, the second floor for small parts assembly, the third floor for body building, the fourth and sixth floors for painting and drying, and the fifth floor for upholstery.
The four-story reinforced-concrete Building 5 was constructed in 1919. The north façade is curved to follow the railroad line and features factory windows. A bridge connector is located on the east façade and provides access to Building 4A and 4B. The remains of a railroad line are located under the connector, which dates to 1925.
The one-story steel-frame Building 6 has concrete block walls and brick piers. A loading dock is located on the south façade, and there is a small shed addition near the northwest corner. Essel, Styn, Murphy, & Hanford built this structure.
Originally a carriage manufacturer, the Anderson Carriage Company occupied the site from 1905-22. William M. Anderson founded the company in 1884 in Port Huron and relocated to Detroit in 1895. In 1911 the company changed its name to the Anderson Electric Car Company after production of electric cars began in addition to carriage bodies. By 1919, the company had changed its name to the Detroit Electric Car Company in honor of their car, the Detroit Electric. Founder Anderson, who had retired in 1918, was replaced by M.S. Towson. In September 1922, the bodybuilding portion of the Detroit Electric Car Company split off to become the Towson Body Company. Murray Body Corporation and J.W. Murray Manufacturing bought out Towson Body. The Detroit Electric Car Company closed in 1938 due to the declining popularity of the electric automobile.
Charles R. Wilson and his brother, J.C. Wilson, founded the C.R. Wilson Body Company (originally the C.R. and J.C. Wilson Carriage Company). By 1902, the company had become the nation’s largest builder of buggy and carriage bodies. The first Wilson-built body for an automobile was Ransom Olds’ curved-dash Oldsmobile roadster. Wilson supplied car bodies to Ford, Cadillac, and Oldsmobile, as well as to Thomas-Detroit and Hudson. It was the first to DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 7)
trademark its vehicles by using the small triangular logo of the Wilson Body Company. The Detroit factory manufactured open bodies for touring cars and roadsters and closed bodies for sedans, cabriolets, and limousines—the latter produced at Factory No. 5. Founder Charles Wilson sold the company in 1924 to his friend and fellow Detroit Athletic Club member John William Murray.
The J.W. Murray Manufacturing Company began making metal stampings for auto body parts in March 1913.6 This was one of the first companies to specialize in sheet metal parts for the automotive industry. Murray started as a supplier of unassembled commodity parts to the industry, supplying parts primarily to Studebaker in the first year. By 1922, company operations had expanded so much that additional plants were necessary in Cleveland, St. Louis, and Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of the most impressive surviving buildings in the Russell Industrial Center from this period was built for Murray: Building No. 3 designed by Albert Kahn.
In addition to the C.R. Wilson Body Company, Murray acquired the J.C. Widman Company and Towson Body Company and formed the Murray Body Corporation in 1924. The following year, Murray took over the C.D. Widman Company, producer of mirrors, glass products, and auto bodies, from founder C. David Widman. By that time, Murray was one of the auto industry’s major suppliers, producing (along with Briggs and the Fisher brothers), three-million units. The Murray Body Corporation was absorbed into the Murray Corporation of America in 1926.
The Murray Corporation of America initially began as a producer of automotive stampings, including chassis frames and fenders, as well as washing machines, gasoline station equipment, cushion springs, and home appliances (kitchen cabinets and bathroom accessories). In 1930, they employed 7,000-8,000 people and produced 2,000 bodies daily. The company bought out Dietrich, Inc., makers of custom coachwork and the custom Clearvision corners to help blind driving, in 1931. Murray Corporation supplied bodies to Ford, Chrysler, Hupp, Reo, Dodge, and DeSoto.
After Pearl Harbor, the company was awarded several wartime commissions and switched all production to U.S. government mandates. It produced war planes, chassis frames for military vehicles (such as jeeps), and searchlight housings. The company’s factory in Scranton, Pennsylvania, produced B-29 outer wings along with a plant in Memphis, Tennessee, that also produced auto body parts. In the later 1940s, production fell to around 1,200 bodies/day. The company’s post-war efforts focused primarily on household items, so the automotive division was sold off in the 1950s and the company left the Detroit area.
6 Information about the Murray Manufacturing Company and its successor comes from “Murray Corp Folder #1” in the collection of the National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 8)
Building 1. Field photograph taken by field team in 2003.
Building 1A. Field photograph taken by field team in 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 9)
Building 1A. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
Building 2. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 10)
Building 2. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
Building 3. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 11)
Building 3. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
Building 4. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 12)
Building 4A and 4B. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
Building 5. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 13)
1925, 1951, 1975 Clay (see HAER MI-334 for large-format photography) J.W. Murray Manufacturing Company—Fender Division The 1925 complex of reinforced-concrete and brick buildings with factory windows served as the center for J.W. Murray’s fender-stamping business. A three-story, reinforced-concrete factory with a two-story, seven-bay addition on the east façade is located at 1925 Clay. A two- story reinforced-concrete addition is at 1951 Clay, and a two-story brick corner building is at 1975 Clay. In 1990, Ivan Doverspike Machine Tools moved into the complex.
1824 Clay Edgar’s Sugar House The 1912 building is located at the crossing of the Michigan Central and the Grand Trunk Western railroads. The two-story, reinforced-concrete L-plan building has a sloped roof. A loading dock flanks the main entrance from Clay Avenue. A small sign on the east façade reads “Office.”
This warehouse was initially constructed for W.H. Edgar & Son as Warehouse No. 4 for sugar and flour storage.7 The company manufactured sugars, syrup, molasses, and glucose and was the main supplier for the candy manufacturers and breweries in the city of Detroit. Taylor McLeish Company has occupied the building since the 1960s. Hendley Vicars Taylor and Robert McLeish founded the grocery distributing company in 1899.
1831 Clay Brown-Hutchinson Iron Works (now Southfield Machining) Located at the corner of Clay and Morrow avenues, this complex of buildings currently occupied by Southfield Machining, Inc., is composed of a two-story, vinyl-sided house attached to a one- story shed building by a small brick connecting structure. The street façade of the shed structure is composed of painted factory windows running the entire length of the building. Roll-up metal doors provide truck access. The roof has a slight pitch in the center. Building permits indicate the presence of a frame storage shed on the site in 1909, followed by a frame office building in 1911. In 1925, a two-story addition to the factory was built. Finally, a one-story office addition was completed in 1971.
Founded by Detroit industrialist A.C. Hutchinson, Brown-Hutchinson Iron Works has occupied this site on Clay off the Grand Trunk Western since the early years of World War I. This leading industrial firm in the city of Detroit manufactured structural steel and shell handling machinery for the military. Brown-Hutchinson was one of several firms that made Detroit the world’s only large-scale manufacturer of automobiles during World War I.
7 For information on Edgar’s Sugar House, see Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 1889-2001; Detroit City Directory, 1905-70; City of Detroit, Detroit Building Permit Nos. 89504 (August 17, 1966) and 31634 (March 8, 1940). For information on Taylor McLeish, see Albert Nelson Marquis, The Book of Detroiters: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit (Chicago: A. N. Marquis & Company, 1914). DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 14)
After the war, Brown-Hutchinson exclusively fabricated structural steel until 1930, when the plant was expanded and new machinery was installed. During World War II, the company increased its product base and produced machine bases, electrical plating equipment, parts for naval ships and airplanes, alloy steel brackets, bomb racks, packing cases, trays, and other military equipment and supplies. Unlike many other companies, the Brown-Hutchinson Iron Works was successful in converting their wartime production to civilian production. The company supplied automotive parts to the “Big Three” (General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and the Chrysler Corporation).8
1831 Clay. Field photographs taken by field team, 2003.
1831 Clay. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
8 See Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 1889-2001; Detroit City Directory, 1905-70; City of Detroit, Detroit Building Permits Nos. 64882 (October 27, 1971), 18527-A (June 18, 1925), 287 (February 4, 1911), and 3112 (December 16, 1909); and A.M. Smith, Industrial Detroit (Detroit: Detroit News, 1930). DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 15)
2566 East Grand Boulevard (see HAER MI-352 for large-format photography) National Can Company The 1916 three-story brick and steel building has a concrete addition on the south façade and a series of smaller shed buildings on the north façade. A brick arcade frames each opening, all of which have been boarded up with wooden boards or concrete blocks. The remains of a sign reading “National Can Co.” can be seen on the building’s west façade. A brick garage was constructed in 1924, and a 1930 building permit approved remodeling the brick factory and building a loading dock.
The National Can Company factory was built in 1916. In addition to manufacturing aluminum cans, the company expanded into the automotive industry. In the 1930 edition of Industrial Detroit, the company was listed under the subheading: “Stamping: Motor Vehicle Parts and Accessories.” After the National Can Company vacated the building, the Continental Can Company, the Sears & Roebuck Company, and the George C. Wetherbee Company occupied it. The building has primarily remained a storage warehouse for most of its existence and is currently vacant.9
2566 East Grand Boulevard. Field photograph by field team, 2003.
9 Smith, Industrial Detroit. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 16)
2679 East Grand Boulevard (see HAER MI-337 for large-format photography) Pioneer Building, originally Trippensee Manufacturing Company This two-story English bond brick building facing onto Grand Boulevard was enlarged in 1915 with a three-story addition to the rear of the structure. The openings on the street front have stone sills.
The three Trippensee brothers (William, Albert, and Frank) had the building erected in 1908 to house their growing planetarium and tellurium (models of the solar system intended for classroom use) manufacturing business that had been established two years earlier.10 A Detroit Fire Marshall’s plan from ca. 1909 shows the original building (which was devoted to office space) with an additional building behind that housed the planetarium manufacturing space and a separate lumber yard.11 Around 1915, the building was expanded with an addition to the southern side that eliminated the original outbuilding and lumberyard. This addition still stands today, occupying the south end of the site.
Part of the need for this expansion was rooted in the fact that the Trippensee brothers had entered auto body manufacturing between 1913 and 1916.12 Their expertise in wood and metal made their factory an ideal place for creating quality bodies for the burgeoning automobile industry. Frank, the company’s original secretary and treasurer (and the most active of the three brothers in automotive work) was a carriage builder by trade and had come to Detroit from Flint in 1900 to work at the C.R. Wilson Company.13
By 1921, Trippensee Manufacturing was creating bodies for Fisher, Chrysler, the Rickenbacker Motor Car Company, and several others. The following year, Clarence Burton recognized the contributions the brothers were making to the city, stating they had created a business that was “one of massive proportions, employing more than 800 people….Today [in 1922] the great industry is meeting an extensive demand for automobile bodies on the part of companies that assemble motor cars, and year by year that trade is growing in importance.”14
Trippensee primarily made open-body cabs until 1923, when it merged with the Everett Brothers Corporation, one of Byron Everett’s companies that specialized in automotive trim and the manufacture of tops. Out of this merger came the Trippensee Closed-Body Company, a million- dollar corporation that continued as an independent organization until it was merged with Rickenbacker in 1925.15
10 Clarence M. Burton, The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, vol. 5 (Detroit: S. J. Clarke, 1922), 239. The original planetarium manufacturing part of the business continues to make planetariums under the Trippensee name in Buffalo, New York. 11 City of Detroit, Fire Marshall’s Plan & Violations, in National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library. 12 The 1913 Detroit City Directory for the first time lists the Trippensee Manufacturing Company as “Mfgrs of Planetariums and Automobile Bodies,” but Burton, City of Detroit, vol. 5, page 239, states that the company only converted to building auto bodies in 1916. 13 John Bluth, “ ‘Bodybuilders’ of the DAC—World Class Craftsmen, Part 2,” DAC News (December 2000), 41. 14 “Two Detroit Body Companies Combine,” Automobile Topics 70 (May 19, 1923): 20; quote from Burton, City of Detroit, vol. 5, 239. 15 “$23,000,000 Merger is Subject of Meeting,” Automobile Topics 75 (October 18, 1924): 859; and “Rickenbacker Motor Now Merged with Trippensee,” Automobile Topics 79 (October 24, 1925): 999. The original merger aimed at DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 17)
Within four years, however, Trippensee had abandoned its original factory on East Grand. The last year that Trippensee was listed at that address in the Detroit City Directory was in 1929. Since then, the building has had a variety of tenants, including Pioneer Furniture, and builders of hacksaws and ice scrapers. It currently houses artist’s studios.
2679 East Grand Boulevard. Field photograph by field team, 2003.
creating a broad-spectrum line of automobiles, presumably along the lines of General Motors, by combining Rickenbacker Motor Car, Peerless Motor Car, and Gray Motor Corporation. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 18)
1600 Euclid Joseph T. Ryerson & Son, now Stress-Con Industries The two structures on this site include a one-story brick and steel office building dating to 1969 and a large saw-tooth steel-frame warehouse. The warehouse is faced in corrugated-metal siding with metal roll-up doors located at regular intervals along Hartwick.
Steel and iron manufacturer Joseph T. Ryerson & Son, Inc. owned the shed through the 2000s. Ryerson was founded in Chicago in 1842 and quickly expanded its markets throughout the Midwest region and the East Coast. Occupying the site for most of the building’s life, Joseph T. Ryerson & Son continued as a steel distributor until the latter part of the twentieth century. In 1986, Ryerson merged with Tull Industries to form Ryerson Tull Industries. The building is currently occupied by Stress-Con Industries, who continue to use the building as a storage shed and factory building.
1600 Euclid. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
1600 Euclid. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 19)
1900, 1910 Marston Detroit Wire Spring Company (now American Axle Manufacturing) Located at the corner of Marston Street and Morrow Avenue, the complex is made up of three separate buildings: a three-story steel and brick building (1900 Marston), a one-story steel office/warehouse (1910 Marston), and a one-story shed building and loading dock (1930 Marston). The entire complex is connected to the back of 1925 Clay Avenue. The three-story factory building curves to the nearby railroad line on the east façade. There is a large sign on the upper portion of the office/warehouse that reads “American Axle & Manufacturing.” The office/warehouse and the shed building are clad in corrugated-metal panels.
The Detroit Wire Spring Company was originally located at 21st and Standish but decided to build a new 81' x 119' factory at Morrow and Marston. The brick building with composition roofing was designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, architects and built in 1909. The company initially produced mattresses, mattress units, spring cushions, wire coat hangers, and mechanical springs. During World War II, it produced large and small ammunition, ammunition links, feed mechanisms, floats, life rafts, aircraft gasoline tanks, aircraft terminals, cable assemblies, shell containers, and motor parts. After the war, the Detroit Wire Spring Company resumed manufacturing metal spring parts and began contributing parts to auto makers and other industries, like General Motors, Chrysler, Nash-Kelvinator, General Electric, Douglas Aircraft, Lockheed, and many others. American Axle Manufacturing currently occupies the building.
1900 Marston. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 20)
608 East Milwaukee (see HAER MI-336 for large-format photography) Fairmount Creamery Company (now Midcity Warehouse, Inc.) The three-story reinforced-concrete building is located directly adjacent to the railroad line. Fenestration is comprised of factory windows. Brick piers capped with stone accents divide the street façade into bays, and stone blocks are located between the second and third floors. “The Fairmount Creamery Company” is written in white stone directly on this main façade. The west façade has a series of loading docks on the first floor. The structural frame is visible on the east façade, and there is a three-story concrete-block addition. An old foundry chimney and a smaller one-story steel and brick garage building are located to the west of the main building. The east façade also has the ruins of an exterior staircase and a small one-story metal shed.
The Fairmount Creamery was built in 1926 and remains as an example of the rich food- processing history of Milwaukee Junction. Backing up against the railroad embankment, the building and the extant support structures erected on the east side of the site in 1954 retain signs of the equipment used to load and unload dairy produce from the rail cars. This building is one of the few that still show signs of the intimate relationship between the railroad and the city of Detroit.
608 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 21)
950 East Milwaukee (see HAER MI-351 for large-format photography) Fisher Body Plant #37 (now New Center Stamping) The three-story steel and brick building has a two-story addition on the south façade. The east and west facades have brick piers capped with stone capitals located at regular intervals. The north façade, facing East Milwaukee, has a parapet with stone and a large flagpole. The piers on the north façade sit on stone bases. Fenestration is comprised of factory windows.
According to the Detroit City Directory, the Fisher Body Corporation occupied a plant attributed to Alfred Kahn Inc. at this address in 1925. Fisher Body operated a stamping plant (described in some of the literature as a “die tryout facility”), and it has the distinction of being one of the few buildings in Milwaukee Junction that is still used for the same purpose for which it was designed seventy-five years ago. The old Fisher Body plant closed in 1989, and entrepreneur Gregory Smith purchased it in 1992. Smith continues to use the property to produce “Class A stampings, large industrial stampings, weldments and assemblies for the service parts industry.” Most recently, the site was used in the film Eight Mile about Detroit rapper Eminem.16
950 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
16 Detroit City Directory, 1925; Tom Pidgeon, “In Detroit: New Center Stamping Plant Celebrates Fifth Anniversary,” Detroit News, June 10, 1998; John Monaghan, “Putting Detroit on the Map,” Detroit Free Press, November 8, 2002; and “New Center Stamping Celebrates 5th Anniversary,” Detroit News, June 1, 1998. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 22)
1475 East Milwaukee (see HABS MI-443 for large-format photography) Fire Department, Engine Company No. 28, Ladder Company No. 11 The 1904 two-story steel and brick fire department has a one-story steel and brick addition on the west façade. The street façade features brick corbels, garage doors, and a bricked-in arched opening. Fenestration is primarily comprised of double-hung sash with stone sills and stone headers. There are four carved stone pieces with the number of the fire department and the ladder company on the street façade as well.
Designed by the architectural firm Rogers & McFarlane, this is the only fire department in the Milwaukee Junction area. An addition was completed in 1928. It is currently occupied by Fast Pete’s Hauling and Demolition Company.
1475 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 23)
1560 East Milwaukee Richard Brothers Die Works (now Power Press Sales) The complex of buildings at this location consists of a two-story brick and steel warehouse at the corner of Milwaukee and Orleans that connects to a larger, two-story factory fronting Lyman Place. There is a large foundry chimney. The Lyman Place and Orleans Avenue street facades have decorative stone finishes. The first-floor window openings have all been closed in. The street facades feature brick pilasters capped with stone capitals and diamond-shaped accents. The Lyman Place façade has a row of factory windows. A three-story central bay features an arched window surround with a keystone.
The Richard Brothers Die Works operated a sheet metal die shop that produced punches and digs for automobile factories. A warehouse was added in 1919, and a factory was built on Lyman Place in 1923. Later absorbed into the Allied Products Corporation, this building has remained a machine shop and stamping factory. It is currently occupied by Power Press Sales Company.
1560 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
1560 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 24)
1579 East Milwaukee McCord Manufacturing Supply Company and Springman Paper Supply Company The three-story reinforced-concrete factory building has a three-story steel and brick addition faced with tile on the street façade. A green tile border surrounds the second and third floor windows. There is a loading dock on the street façade and a stack at the northeast corner.
Built in 1926, the building served as the headquarters for a variety of industries, including Schwanbeck Brothers bakers; Springman Paper Products; McCord Radiator & Manufacturing Company’s supply office; Detroit Gasket & Manufacturing Company; Crown Cork & Seal Company; Kingston Detroit Company Inc. (makers of auto accessories); John Sexton & Company; Sears Roebuck & Company warehouse; and Wisconsin Toy & Novelty.
1579 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
1579 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 25)
1900 East Milwaukee (see HAER MI-333 for large-format photography) Detroit White Lead Works (now Arco Die Cast & Metals) The three-story steel and brick building is part of a large complex on Milwaukee Avenue that includes 1920, 1950, and 1960 East Milwaukee. The first-floor openings have been bricked up. There are decorative brick corbels on the street facade. The upper windows on the other facades are arched. The entire complex is attached to the back of 1891 Trombly Avenue.
Ford M. Rogers purchased the Detroit White Lead Works in 1880 after the owners declared bankruptcy. Construction at this site started in 1908 with a one-story brick factory that underwent numerous expansions. The Detroit White Lead Works made insecticides, soaps, red and white leads, and paint, even supplying paint to automobile manufacturers in the Milwaukee Junction area. Initially, they only produced white lead paint but began to produce other colors in response to demand from the automotive industry.
The company also shared this complex with various companies ranging from furniture makers to automotive parts manufacturers. Tenants have included the Detroit Varnish Company, Randall- Williams Company (manufacturers of cleaning compounds), Detroit Paint & Glass, Peninsular Paint & Varnish Company, Maldaver Brothers Company (makers of auto parts), and Arco Die Cast & Metals.
1900 East Milwaukee. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 26)
6500 Russell Avenue Art Stove Company This brick warehouse dating to 1911 is the last surviving building of the Art Stove Company, one of the leading stove manufacturers in the city of Detroit until the Detroit Stove Company assumed that title in 1923. The original factory of the Art Stove Company was located across the street on the northwest corner of Russell and Milwaukee.17
6500 Russell Avenue. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
17 Marquis, Book of Detroiters; Smith, Industrial Detroit. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 27)
1400 Trombly Avenue (see HAER MI-340 for large-format photography) Detroit Can Company This complex of buildings, begun in 1916 with an addition in 1920, consists of a three-story reinforced-concrete factory with a one-story loading dock and a one-story brick and steel building on the east façade. The three-story factory has vertical metal paneling on the upper story. The south façade has been significantly damaged and part of the structure is exposed. The entire complex is painted pink. A sign on the corner of Trombly and Russell reads “The Kirlin Co., Plant No. 2.”
The original tenant was the American Can Company, manufacturer of aluminum cans and other metal stamping products, including automobile parts. In Industrial Detroit, the company was listed under “Stamping: Motor Vehicle Parts and Accessories. Cans and Containers, stampings.” Kirlin Company later occupied the property. The company manufactured electric lights and various glass products. During World War II, it supplied parts for P-51 Mustang fighter planes and held a patent for the first cruise control system for automobiles.18
1400 Trombly. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
18 Smith, Industrial Detroit. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 28)
1558 Trombly Avenue American Radiator Company This is the last surviving building of the American Radiator Company. The one-story brick and steel-frame building has a stone foundation and entry doors on the north and west facades. The street façade has nine windows separated by brick piers. The entry door on the north façade has been bricked in.
The American Radiator Company was established in 1891 and was, according to some of its literature had the distinction of being “the largest manufacturer of steam radiators and hot water boilers in the world.” The Detroit plant went from a production plant of cast-iron radiators and castings to the experimental and mechanical division of the American Radiator Company in the 1930s. The company was later subsumed by the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation. After the demolition of the American Radiator Company, Detroit Edison occupied the site and built their Trombly Service Station there.
1558 Trombly. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 29)
1962 Trombly Avenue F. A. Thompson Manufacturing Company (now Michigan Box Company) Completed in 1899, this is the only nineteenth-century building remaining in the survey area. The brick structure has corbelling. Most of the windows have been removed, although some openings have glass blocks.
The owner, Frank Thompson, worked for Parke-Davis and Company for fourteen years before founding F.A. Thompson Manufacturing Company in 1897. The company specialized in resinoids, plus fluid, solid and powdered extracts, and Golden Seal Alkoloids. F.A. Thompson was the first company to use coffin-shaped glass bottles for prescriptions and poisons. It also manufactured pharmaceutical products, with international representation in England and Australia.
By 1927, C.E. Jamieson & Company occupied the building, remaining through the 1940s. This company, organized by Detroiter C.E. Jamieson in 1925, also produced pharmaceuticals, including powdered extracts, solid extracts, elixirs, syrups, tablets, pastes, ointments, and powders. C.E. Jamieson & Company also manufactured vitamin products for U.S. soldiers during World War II and continued in the international market through the 1940s.19
1962 Trombly Avenue. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
19 Marquis, Book of Detroiters. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 30)
7310 Woodward (see HAER MI-353 for large-format photography) Ford Service Building (now Boulevard Building) Designed by Albert Kahn, Inc., the eight-story reinforced-concrete building has an exposed structural frame infilled with factory windows on the north and west facades. There are ribbon windows on the south and west facades. A one-story addition was built on the north façade of the building. Stone veneer covers the south and west facades.
Built for the Ford Motor Company in 1909, the building was originally only four stories, but another four were added in 1913 and the whole exterior was clad in white terra-cotta facing. By the 1960s, however, the terra-cotta facing was cracking and falling apart, and the decision was made to reface the building in stone. The building housed the Ford Motor Company’s Detroit branch while Ford moved his operations from the Piquette Avenue plant to the new Highland Park facility. The Ford Service Building housed a variety of functions, including offices, a service station, a repair facility on the third and fourth floors, and various painting related functions.
Ford Motor moved out of the building in 1919, and the Wayne County Home Savings Bank occupied the property in 1921. Various banks and other businesses continued to lease the property through the 1960s. One of the last tenants was the Michigan Employment Security Commission, who stayed through the end of the twentieth century.20
7310 Woodward. Field photograph taken by field team, 2003.
20 W. Hawkins Ferry, The Buildings of Detroit (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1968), 187; Sanborn, Insurance Maps of Detroit, 1915; Detroit City Directory, 1921. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 31)
“$23,000,000 Merger is Subject of Meeting.” Automobile Topics 75 (October 18, 1924): 859.
Atlas of the City of Detroit, Michigan. New York: E. Robinson, 1885.
Beasley, Norman, and George W. Stark. Made in Detroit. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1957.
Bluth, John. “ ‘Bodybuilders’ of the DAC—World Class Craftsmen, Part 1.” DAC News (November 2000): 44-47.
______. “ ‘Bodybuilders’ of the DAC—World Class Craftsmen, Part 2.” DAC News (December 2000): 40-44.
Burton, Clarence M. The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922. 5 volumes. Detroit: S.J. Clarke, 1922.
“Cleveland’s Pride is a Factor in Merger Plan.” Automobile Topics 75 (October 25, 1924): 971.
City of Detroit, Fire Marshall’s Plans and Code Violations. National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library.
Croll, Robert Frederick. Fall of an Automotive Empire: A Business History of the Final Years of the Packard Motor Car Company, 1945-1958. Detroit: Automotive History Research Foundation, 1978.
Danilovich, Robert S. “Location and Distribution of Defunct Automobile Plants in Detroit, 1900- 1956.” M.A. Thesis. Mount Pleasant, MI: Central Michigan University, Department of Geography, 1974.
Davis, Donald Finlay. Conspicuous Production: Automobiles and Elites in Detroit, 1899-1933. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.
Detroit City Directory. Detroit: R.L. Polk, 1905-1970.
Dunnigan, Brian Leigh. Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.
Ferry, W. Hawkins. “Representative Detroit Buildings: A Cross Section of Architecture, 1823- 1943.” Detroit Institute of Arts Bulletin 22, no. 5 (February 1943): 46-60.
______. The Buildings of Detroit: A History. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1968.
Hyde, Charles K. Detroit: An Industrial History Guide. Detroit: Detroit Historical Society, 1980.
DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 32)
______. “ ‘Detroit the Dynamic’: The Industrial History of Detroit from Cigars to Cars.” Michigan Historical Review 27, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 57-73.
Industrial and Commercial Buildings. Detroit: Albert Kahn, Inc. 1936.
Kollins, Michael J. Pioneers of the U.S. Automobile Industry, 2 volumes. Warrendale, Pennsylvania: Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2002.
Marquis, Albert Nelson. The Book of Detroiters: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1914.
Mitchell, S. Augustus. “Plan of the City of Detroit, 1882.” Map Collection, Detroit Public Library.
Monaghan, John. “Putting Detroit on the Map.” Detroit Free Press, November 8, 2002.
“New Center Stamping Celebrates 5th Anniversary.” Detroit News, June 1, 1998.
Olsen and Cabadas. The American Auto Factory. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2002.
Pidgeon, Tom. “In Detroit: New Center Stamping Plant Celebrates Fifth Anniversary.” Detroit News, June 10, 1998.
“Plant Capacity Will Be Doubled.” Detroit Free Press, December 8, 1912, 12.
Poremba, David Lee. Detroit: City of Industry. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.
Rice, H.H. The Book of Michigan Industry and Those Who Serve. Supplement of Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record. 33, no. 19. Detroit, 194?.
“Rickenbacker Company Makes $347,563 in First 10 Months.” Automobile Topics 80 (December 19, 1925): 504.
“Rickenbacker Motor Now Merged with Trippensee.” Automobile Topics 79 (October 24, 1925): 999.
Sanborn Insurance Company. Insurance Maps of Detroit, Michigan. New York: Sanborn Insurance Company, 1889-2001.
Smith, A.M. Industrial Detroit. Detroit: The Detroit News, 1930.
Szudarek, Robert G. How Detroit Became the Automotive Capital. Warren, Michigan: Typocraft Company, 1996.
“Trippensee Resigns Post.” Automobile Topics 79 (October 3, 1925): 688. DETROIT’S MILWAUKEE JUNCTION SURVEY HAER MI-416 (Page 33)
“Trippensee Wins Tax Rebate.” Automobile Topics 92 (February 2, 1929): n.p.
“Two Detroit Body Companies Combine.” Automobile Topics 70 (May 19, 1923): 20.
“Wire Spring Company Extends Plant.” Detroit Free Press, September 5, 1909, A12.
Yanik, Anthony J. “Byron F. Everitt: Pioneer Body Builder, Founder of Three Car Companies.” Chronicle 25, no. 4 (Spring 1990): 8-10.
______. The E-M-F Company: The Story of Automotive Pioneers Barney Everitt, William Metzger and Walter Flanders. Warrendale, Pennsylvania: Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., 2001.