Historic Detroit

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

Lincoln Motor Co.

Henry Leland’s name was synonymous with automobiles. He turned Cadillac Motor Car into a top luxury brand and continued to manage the company after selling it to General Motors in 1908.

He left GM in order to make aircraft engines for World War I, forming Lincoln Motor Co. in 1917, naming it after the president, a lifelong idol of his. George D. Mason designed this plant at Livernois and Warren avenues.

After the war ended a year later, Leland bought the plant from Uncle Sam in order to get back into the luxury car business. But a short recession came in the war’s wake, crippling the fledgling automaker and sending it into receivership in 1921. The following year, Henry Ford, looking to add a quality brand to his offerings, bought Lincoln for $8 million — the equivalent of $115 million today, and had architect Albert Kahn design an expansion for the facility in 1922.

The plant continued pumping out Lincolns until 1952, when production was moved elsewhere. The complex was sold three years later to Detroit Edison, which used it as a service center. In 1978, the plant was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Sadly, the utility company demolished most of the site in 2002-03, and its national landmark status was revoked.