In the early 1900's the automotive industry was young and the early auto barons were bold, innovative men. One of Henry Ford's pioneering ideas was the coexistance 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 that included Milan, Brooklyn, Saline, Northville, Macon and Milford where early waterpowers still existed. He restored existing historic mills or cnostructed 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 Milford Powerhouse (Pettibone Creek Hydroelectric Station) is the sole survivor of the three buildings and five dams that comprised Milford’s village industry. The larger Huron River Hydroelectric Station was demolished in 1997; the carburetor factory was razed in 2001.
“Milford’s Powerhouse,” observes Prof. David L. Lewis of the University of Michigan, “is one of the most distinctive of Ford’s village industries buildings, located in a most picturesque setting. Ford history enthusiasts are delighted to learn that is to be restored!”
The Powerhouse has an important story to tell about Milford’s place in the early development of the auto industry, an industry that changed the world.