Henry Ford’s Village Industries
In 1938, the automotive industry was young and the early auto barons were bold, innovative men. One of Henry Ford’s pioneering ideas was the coexistence of technology, modern production and farming. Workers would have “one foot in agriculture…and the other in industry.”
Ford began developing his vision by creating “Village Industries.” He chose sites in southeast Michigan: Milan, Brooklyn, Saline, Northville, Macon and Milford where early waterpowers still existed. He restored existing historic mills or constructed modern buildings, creating small industrial complexes in these rural settings.
Milford’s Upper Mill Pond, created by an early 1845 dam, became the site of the 12th Village Industry when the Ford Carburetor Factory was built in 1938. Albert Kahn designed the factory and two hydroelectric stations, one on the Huron River and one on Pettibone Creek to supply the factory with power. The plant employed 350 workers, 53% of them farmers. The output was 1,700 carburetors per day. The larger hydroelectric station was demolished in 1997; the carburetor factory was razed in 2001.
Milford’s Powerhouse, historically the Pettibone Creek Hydroelectric Station, is one of only a few buildings in southeast Michigan that remains from this interesting experiment. The striking silhouette of this restored Art Deco building will stand to tell an important story of local and regional history.
The Powerhouse as it looked in 1932
More Help is Needed
Saving a local landmark from “demolition by neglect” depends on help from many sources: preservation grants, local businesses and a broad base of community support.
While Phase 1 costs are completely funded, funding and in-
Community support in the form of labor, materials, and equipment and additional funding,
will chip away at the wish list piece by piece. In addition, supporters can “Paint-
Phases of the Project
Work will be completed in phases:
Hydro Infrastructure Repair
The exterior restoration will follow the U.S. Secretary of Interior Standards for
Rehabilitation. Completion of Phase 1 is projected for fall/winter, 2004. As funding
Interpretation will tell the stories of Henry Ford’s Village Industries, Milford workers, the Art Deco architectural style and hydroelectric power generation.
The Powerhouse project is associated with the Auto National Heritage Areas, designated by the U.S. Congress in 1998. With this affiliation, Milford’s Powerhouse will be included in their mission to preserve and interpret the region’s automotive heritage as well as encourage tourism to southeast Michigan.
Investors in the Project
Village of Milford
Milford Historical Society
Milford Downtown Development Authority
Mich. Dept. of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Community Devlp. Block Grant
Siplast/Icopal Roof Systems
Automobile Nat’l Heritage Area
Evans Memorial Grant
Newton Crane Roofing Contractors
Johanna Favrot/ Nat’l Trust
for Historic Preservation
Integrated Engineering Assoc., Inc
Colley Electrical Systems, Inc.
Dan Christie Illustrations
Milford Business Association
Pettibone Creek Questers
Mich. State Organization of Questers
Detroit Area Art Deco Society
Denise and Lyle Tyler
Hines Park Ford, Inc.
The Restoration Project
Project Phases Funding
Building Enclosure 100%
Interior Restoration 0%
Site Improvements 30%
Hydro Infrastructure Repair 0%
2nd Revision 04/ 04