Lincoln Motor Company Plant (Demolished 2003)

Lincoln Motor Car Company (Demolished), Detroit, Michigan

SIGNIFICANCE

The Lincoln Motor Company Plant, situated in an industrial section in west Detroit, consists of an Administration Building and Garage, a Machine Shop, and two factories especially built by Henry M. Leland to manufacture the Liberty engine and later used by him for the production of the first Lincoln automobiles.

The Liberty Engine, developed shortly after the United States entered World War I, was one of America's greatest contributions to aviation during the war. The most successful manufacturer of these engines was automaker Henry M. Leland whose Lincoln Motor Company produced more of them than any other company and in the process set records for both daily and monthly production. Much of this success was due to what Leland had learned as a machinist and producer of fine automobiles.

Although Leland contributed to the success of Ransom E. Olds' curved-dash Oldsmobile with his precision-Lincoln Motor Company Plantmade transmissions and engines, he won his greatest fame as a manufacturer in his own right. Late in 1902, Leland became associated with the Cadillac Motor Company, and during the next 15 years he made the firm's name synonymous with high quality automobiles. Under Leland's direction, Cadillac carried the interchangeability of parts to a hitherto unreached plateau, encouraged Charles F. Kettering to develop the first successful electric starter, and became the first American manufacturer to produce a V-type, water-cooled, eight-cylinder engine. As a result of these achievements, Cadillac was the first American automobile to win the Dewar Trophy of the Royal Automobile Club. In fact, the car earned this highly coveted international award twice.

At the end of World War I, Leland reorganized the Lincoln Motor Company into an automobile manufacturing firm and introduced the precision-made Lincoln, which incorporated many of his engineering achievements. Leland eventually lost control of this venture to Henry Ford.

DESIGNATION(S)

  • 1978, National Historic Landmark
  • 1978, National Register of Historic Places

ARCHITECT, BUILDER, OR DESIGNER(S)

  • George D. Mason, architect
  • Albert Kahn,architect
  • Walbridge-Aldinger Company, builder

SIGNIFICANT DATE(S)

  • 1917, ground broken for new construction
  • 1918, new buildings put into operation
  • 1922, Lincoln plant turned over to Henry Ford