Monday, December 29, 2014

The Detroit Packard Plant - What I did on my Christmas Vacation

While visiting family in Detroit for Christmas I had the opportunity to tour the long abandoned Packard Plant.  While snapping away, my brother and I were approached by a kind man who offered us the tour - a tour that most sane people would have refused and could have gone so terribly, terribly wrong. 

"Ever notice how 'What the hell' is always the right answer?"
- Marilyn Monroe

The Packard Plant opened in 1903.  Packard stopped production in the 50's and the building had hosted several businesses (mostly storage) since then.  It's been mostly abandoned since the 90's.

I've had a couple of associations with the Packard car in my life.  My close friend Kathleen owns a 1949 that I've had the opportunity to drive a couple of times.  It's a behemoth, built like a brick house and is just as classy.

(note the DEATH HAG sticker)

A few years back I had the opportunity to slip my fat ass into Jean Harlow's 1937 Packard.

I learned on this trip that my dad worked at the Packard Plant in 1947 as a body pusher.  He would guide the body of these majestic creations to the assembly line, across the iconic bridge over E. Grand Blvd.  My godmother was also an employee for decades.

Human termites known as "scrappers" have been brazenly munching away at the Packard Plant and selling the metal, so much so that the structure is unstable and dangerous.  However, it's also dramatic and fascinating... beautiful in a weird way.  And I'm weird.

Standing mostly empty for so many years, the place has been slowly destroyed by the elements, vandals, the occasional discovery of a corpse and other various crimes.

The great news:  Detroit is coming back.  I never thought it would happen in my lifetime.  There are terrific things are going on in Motown.  I love that, I really do.  But I love the ruins of my childhood home just as much.  I'm from Detroit, my family mostly lives in Detroit, and I visit it a few times a year, but back in 1985?  I couldn't get out fast enough.

The Packard Plant has been purchased by a developer and work has started on destroying some of it and saving some of it.  I've heard he's actually living on the property though I don't believe it.  But it is hopeful.

  Note the sign.

Here are more of my photographs.

Wood bricks were originally soaked in creosote.


Thanks, Rick!


  1. Scott, is this the Packard plant that has the Patrician and Packard Hotels on the same block? My family used to run a used work uniform business, and we would buy uniforms from a man who owned a lot of old buildings in the area. It's been years since I've been there, but I do remember the two Packard named motels on the same block.