Village Industries

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Henry Ford (1863 - 1947): A Visionary

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 (standing) launched Barney Oldfield's career in 1902
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.
Arial Photo
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.

Flat Rock Plant, 1922

Manufacturing plants in Flat Rock and Ypsilanti , Michigan, though built during the same time period, are not generally considered to be one of the 19 Ford Village Industries: ". . .they reflect hybrid characteristics, combining traits of the huge Rouge Plant complex and the newer village sites. . . Ironically, Ford Motor Company officials themselves could not decide whether or not these were truly Village Industries" (from "Henry Ford and Field and Factory," by John Robert Mullin from the collections of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village Research Center).
As in Milford, the Flat Rock Ford Motor Company Lamp Factory, depended on a newly built dam for hydroelectric power and was a significant source of employment for locals and income to the village. Following is a link to  an article with historical perspective on the Flat Rock plant built in 1922:


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