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, on Feb. 4, 1922, Henry Ford, bought Lincoln for about $8 million — the equivalent of $115 million today — in order to expand his reach into the luxury car market. Ford then hired architect Albert Kahn to design an expansion for the plant. The facility made Lincolns — such as the Lincoln Zephyr and Continental — until 1952, and 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 because of its contributions to the automotive industry and war effort.

In January 1996, Detroit Edison became DTE Energy, adopting its stock symbol as its new name.

Despite the former Lincoln plant's status as a National Historic Landmark, that designation would be withdrawn — because DTE Energy chose to demolish most of the site in 2002-03. Today, only parts of the factory remain. Sadly, the distinctive administration building was not spared the utility’s wrecking crews.