Ford Mack Avenue Assembly Plant, Detroit Michigan
Ford's first factory, the Mack Avenue Plant, was an old wagon manufacturing shop owned by Albert Strelow, who agreed to remodel the building, a one-story frame structure 50' wide and 250' long, and rent it to the Ford Motor Company for $75 a month. Ford began moving into the Mack Avenue Plant in April 1903, but did not begin assembling cars there until June, after the incorporation of the Ford Motor Company. The firm was officially launched with stock officially valued at $28,000, but the original investors put in only $19,500 at the start. Ford began with a labor force of only a dozen workers, who merely assembled components purchased from outside suppliers. Dodge Brothers (John and Horace Dodge) built the "running gear," which consisted of the chassis, engine, transmission, drive shaft, and both axles. Ford bought tires, wheels, and bodies from three other firms. Ford was an assembler of cars, but not a manufacturer at this point. While other contemporary automobile manufacturers also bought many components from outside suppliers, pioneers such as Henry Leland at the Cadillac Motor Car Company manufactured their own engines and transmissions.
The Mack Avenue Plant produced fifteen cars a day in the initial months of operations. A second story was added sometime in late 1903 to provide a paint shop and additional space for storage. By Spring 1904 the workforce had grown to about forty. The Mack Avenue Plant produced about 1,700 cars, all Model A Fords, during the first fifteen months of operations through September 1904. The Model A Runabout, seating two, sold for $850 and the Tonneau model, which could seat four, sold for $950. These were popular cars and Ford Motor Company earned profits starting in July 1902. During its first fifteen months of operations, the company enjoyed robust earnings of $36,957.64, approximately $200 on each car sold.
In its first year, the Ford Motor Company became a fast-growing infant which quickly outgrew its crib and needed a lot more room. On 26 January 1904, the firm's board of directors authorized Alexander Malcomson, the company Treasurer, to take an option (at a cost of $1,000) on a nearby parcel of 3.11 acres, an entire city block bounded by Beaubien Street on the east, Brush Street on the west, Piquette Avenue on the south, and the Michigan Central Railroad line on the north. A special Stockholders Meeting of 1 April 1904 authorized the purchase of the property for $24,500. The land was situated in a largely-undeveloped section of Detroit about three miles north of the Detroit River, known as the Milwaukee Junction. The name derived from the junction of three railroads in this area the Detroit & Milwaukee, the Grand Trunk Western, and the Michigan Central. The Ford Motor Company stockholders limited construction costs for a new factory to $76,500. The company directors authorized Henry Ford and John Dodge to approve all the plans and specifications for the Piquette Avenue Plant. They employed the Detroit architectural firm of Field, Hinchman & Smith. Construction began on 10 May 1904, but the City of Detroit did not issue a building permit for the project until 21 May.