The Ford Motor Company opened its first factory supply service shop in Charlotte in 1914 and began assembling bodies and chassis here the next year. When local auto sales far outstripped the capacity of the plant, Henry Ford decided to build a new factory in Charlotte specifically designed for mass production of automobiles. By September 1924, this assembly plant had been constructed on rural property at Statesville and Derita roads, and was already turning out cars. Pictured here the year it was opened, the assembly plant employed 500 workers and produced as many as 300 cars per day during its first year of operation. The building was designed by prolific industrial architect Albert Kahn, who collaborated with Ford on more than a thousand projects and and was responsible for 20% of all architect-designed factories in the United States at the time of his death in 1942.
Plant production reached a high of 60,032 automobiles in 1925, and between 1924 and 1932 it produced more than 230,000 vehicles. The Great Depression took a heavy toll on the automotive industry, however, and mass production in Charlotte was doomed. After producing more than 400,000 cars in 1929, only 6,000 were assembled in 1932. The property was sold the U.S. Army in 1941, and it installed the Charlotte Quartermaster Corps Depot there to store and ship large quantities of cargo to army supply posts. The American Graves Registration Division took over the facility to repatriate the war dead in 1946, and in 1954 it was adapted into the Charlotte Ordnance Missile Plant to manufacture guided missiles and rockets, until it closed in 1967. Today the plant has been subdivided into various warehouse and manufacturing spaces by its owners, including Camp North End.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass