Changes to the Plant during the Chrysler Era
Dodge Main has changed little in the past half century even though new buildings and additions have created another 500,000 square feet of floorspace on top of the 4.6 million square feet built by 1928. Dodge constructed a Pressed Steel Dock (Building 229) east of the new power house in 1933, plus a small addition to the Driveaway Garage in 1937. The first significant new construction came in 1944, when three floors (approximately 300,000 square feet) were added to the four-story Pressed Steel Building, with Albert Kahn Associates completing the design. The fifth and sixth stories were reinforced concrete, while the seventh floor was steel-framed. Construction in the 1950s included a large addition to the Pressed Steel Stores Building in 1952; a smaller addition to Heat Treat No. 2 in 1953; and the East Dock (1956) located east of the Body Building. The company also built a pedestrian bridge over Joseph Campau Avenue in 1954, relieving a long-standing problem of congestion during shift changes. The City of Hamtramck gave Dodge the land on the west side of the street, but Dodge paid the entire cost of the Kahn-designed structure. Finally, the company built a steel-framed Car Repair Building over, the railroad freight docks at the east end of the assembly buildings, completing the work in 1955. Various wood-framed sheds and steel-framed repair shops stood in this area since 1915, The second floor of the new building, measuring 260 feet by 450 feet, was used for final testing of finished cars, with facilities for minor repairs including painting. Cars left the final assembly lines at the east end of the second floor of Assembly Building No. 1, underwent tests in the Car Repair Building, and were then driven down the ramp to street level for shipment.
Except for these few additions, the buildings at the Dodge Main plant did not change much after 1930. The company demolished some buildings at the periphery of the complex in the early 1970s, including a rubbish disposal building constructed in 1916 east of the Body Building. Dodge also tore down the Box Lunch Building (No, 618) on Conant, a structure added in 1926, Two large buildings on the northern fringe of the plant, both constructed in 1900 for the Russel Wheel and Foundry Company, were also demolished. One was a large rectangular brick building just north of the Warehouse Building, while the other was a sprawling wood-framed shed used to store sand, situated north of the Pressed Steel Stores Building. The rest of the buildings standing in the late 1920s were still there in 1980. Since Chrysler needed less floorspace for manufacturing and assembly operations by the 1970s, it converted significant parts of the complex to other uses. A considerable amount of space in the Warehouse, Construction, and Assembly Buildings was used for laboratories and design facilities, while most of the Service Parts plant on Conant became a record storage center.