Project Description

American Motors was built in 1927 and was located at 14250 Plymouth Road at the corner of Mark Twain Street, on Detroit’s far west side.  American Motors was originally built in 1927 as Kelvinator, which was a home appliance manufacturer and a commercial refrigeration company.  Kelvinator decided to built a massive complex on the site, so there was the administration building and the production warehouse.  The administration building was up front and sat directly off of Plymouth Road.  The massive production warehouse was connected to the administration building by a walkway and was located directly behind the administration building.  The Kelvinator administration building was a beautiful, four-story structure, that included a giant bell tower, designed by architects Amedeo Leoni and William Knapp, as well as members of the noted-architectural firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls.  The façade included a light brick exterior, arched windows, limestone details, and a copper roof.  The interior of the administration building was just as beautiful as the exterior.  The lobby consisted of oak wall paneling and doors, marble columns, a marble staircase, marble bordering, iron railings, brass fixtures, and an ornate chandelier.  Kelvinator did not spare a dime in the magnificent construction of this gem.

Kelvinator was a very successful business that specialized in the mass production of ice boxes and refrigerators, which is where the name Kelvinator comes from.  Kelvin is actually the unit for measurement of temperature on an absolute scale.  Kelvinator went on to occupy the complex until Kelvinator merger with an automotive company called Nash.

In 1937, Kelvinator and Nash merged together and the complex was then renamed Nash-Kelvinator.  The two companies merged together to build cars with air conditioning and heating systems.  During this time period, there were so many automobile companies in Detroit that Nash-Kelvinator didn’t fare to well.  The only thing that really kept the plant alive was the production boost of World War II.

In 1954, Nash-Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motors Company and became American Motors Corporation (AMC).  Future Michigan governor, George W. Romney became President of American Motors and took the car company to great heights before eventually being absorbed by Chrysler.

In 1987, American Motors Corporation was absorbed by Chrysler.  The complex was taken over by Chrysler shortly after and they renamed it the Plymouth Road Office Complex (PROC).  Chrysler used the large complex as office space for the engineering staff responsible for the design of Jeeps, as well as Dodge trucks.  Chrysler used the PROC to help design automobiles such as the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Commander, Dodge Ram, Dodge Durango, and the Dodge Dakota amongst many others.  Chrysler continued using the complex for several years until they ran into a bit of their own troubles.

In 2008, Chrysler was going bankrupt and had to liquidate some of their assets.  The Plymouth Road Office Complex would be one of the liquidations.  Chrysler’s employees were moved to other Chrysler offices around the state and the Plymouth Road Office Complex was shut down for good.  Chrysler eventually had to merge with Italian automobile makers, Fiat, in order to continue production.  The Plymouth Road Office Complex was put of for sale shortly after the merge, but the story doesn’t end there.

In 2010, Detroit con-artist, Terry Williams purchased the deteriorating buildings and began scrapping the precious metals and anything else of value that he could turn into quick cash.  Unfortunately for Mr. Williams, he violated the Clean Air Act by not properly abating the building before ripping it apart.  By doing so, Mr. Williams had released asbestos and other hazardous materials into the air.

In 2014, a federal judge sentenced Mr. Williams to serve 27-months in prison for the violations.  He has since lost the property due to unpaid back taxes.

As of 2015, the former American Motors complex sits abandoned with no plans to demolish or redevelop the structures.

 

American Motors/Kelvinator in 2011:

 

American Motors/Kelvinator in 2012: