Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Chrysler Jefferson Avenue plant

This east-side plant long outlived the automaker that built it. In fact, cars were assembled here longer than at any other plant ever built in the U.S.

The factory, built on the south side of East Jefferson Avenue at Conner, also was one of architect Albert Kahn’s earliest reinforced-concrete plants.

Long history short, Chalmers Motor Co. did well at first and built this huge plant in 1908. However, it made increasingly expensive cars that increasingly didn’t sell, and so it leased unused space to Maxwell Motor Car Co. By the late 1910s, the two companies were practically merged — but also practically broke. Their creditors appointed Walter P. Chrysler to take over, and by 1925, he had discontinued the two brands and reorganized the firm as the Chrysler Corp.

This factory became Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue plant, and from its opening in 1908 to its closure on Feb. 2, 1990, made everything from DeSotos to Dodge Omnis.

It also played a crucial part in Detroit's role as the "Arsenal of Democracy" during World War II. During the war years, the Jefferson plant produced about 150,000 engines; 352 air raid sirens, 253 smoke screens, 9,000 pontoons, wings for fighter planes and more.

Outdated, it was demolished in early 1991 and replaced by the new Jefferson North plant built across the street.