The Ford Auditorium was built on the Detroit River waterfront, downtown Detroit, in 1955. The Ford Auditorium’s address was 80 East Jefferson Ave. The building of the auditorium was financed by the Ford Motor Company. The Ford family had given so much of the financial donation, it was designed as a memorial to Henry and Edsel Ford. Edsel Ford was Henry and Clara Ford’s only child and eventually became the President of Ford Motor Company from 1919, until his death in 1943.
This simple, rectangular structure did little to disguise its primary function as an auditorium.The Ford Auditorium was originally built as the new home for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), after Orchestra Hall was going to be vacated. The Ford Auditorium served many functions over the years as it hosted conventions, concerts, theatrical productions, and even famous speeches. In 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed 2,500 persons on “the new Negro of the South” as a guest speaker at the Delta Sigma Theta sorority’s annual national convention that was held at the Ford Auditorium. In February of 1965, just one week before his assassination, Malcolm X addressed the First Annual Dignity Projection and Scholarship Awards ceremony to a large, gathered crowd at Ford Auditorium. It is known as Malcolm X’s “Last Message.”The Ford Auditorium also had a large Aeolian-Skinner organ that was originally installed in 1957 at a cost of $100,000. Helderop Pipe Organs, along with a team of volunteers, dismantled and removed the organ in 2011, and donated in to nearby St. Aloysius Catholic Church. The Aeolian-Skinner organ is still at St. Aloysius today. After 33 years of being home to the DSO, Orchestra Hall was renovated in 1989 and the DSO returned to their original home at Orchestra Hall. The report was that Ford Auditorium’s acoustics were never of great quality and the space was somewhat limited.In it’s final days, high school graduations were about the only thing that the Ford Auditorium was hosting. Sadly, the building has sat vacant ever since the 1990’s.
In 2011, after a few failed attempts to save it, the Ford Auditorium was demolished.
As of 2015, vacant land continues to sit empty awaiting redevelopment where the old Ford Auditorium used to sit.