On the morning of Saturday, November 16,2002 almost 100 HFHA members and their guests toured the 1925 Ford Motor Company’s Engineering Laboratory Building. After lunch most returned to complete the HFHA “Early 20th Century Ford Engineering and Housing” Field Trip by touring Dearborn’s Ford Homes Historic District.
The tour of the Engineering Laboratory Building was led by Mike Bennett, Property Manager, Ford Motor Company Powertrain Operations. The group squeezed into the building’s lobby to escape the chill of an unusually cold fall morning. Then Mr. Bennett took half of the group through the facility while Mike Skinner explained the history of the building to the others. Afterwards the groups traded places. Todd Wilson, Ford Motor Company Security Supervisor, Research and Engineering Center, Executive Operations, opened the building and provided lobby coverage. Thanks to Mr. Bennett and Mr. Wilson the group enjoyed the rare treat of touring a building so important to Ford Motor Company operations during Henry Ford’s lifetime and beyond.
The tour of the Ford Motor Company’s original Engineering Laboratory made it obvious that this 77 year- old facility is still an important part of the company’s engineering operations. Additionally, the building’s superb amenities, including mahogany woodwork, brass hardware, marble, etc. has been well maintained and Henry Ford’s office, which can be viewed through a special glass door, is now preserved in Mr. Ford’s memory and is no longer used as an office. While the skylights in the main work area are now covered, the beam in this area on which Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Charles Sorenson and other members of the company’s 1938 management team marked their heights is now visible under glass. On the building’s facade the names of 21 scientists and inventors are still prominent and visible to all entering the main entrance (see the related story concerning these names elsewhere in this newsletter). Making the tour even more exceptional was the fact that a number of tour participants once worked in this building and several of them shared their stories of meeting or seeing Mr. Ford in the facility with those in attendance.
Later that afternoon over 80 HFHA members and their guests completed the Fall 2002 field trip by taking a walking tour of the Ford Homes Historic District which was led by district resident, Sylvia Tillman. This walking tour was followed by a tour of three of the district’s homes. Thanks to Sylvia and Dave Tillman, Teresa and Kurt Klimkiewicz (the Tillman’ s and the Klimkiewicz ‘ s live in the homes on either side of 22516 Nona where Mike and Sandy Skinner lived from 1987-1993) and Joel Ray and Dr. Sue Clereman for opening their homes for our members and guests. The 250 homes in this district built by the Dearborn Realty Company between 1919-1921 are lovingly maintained by their enthusiastic residents.