It may be one of the most important sites in automotive history—the home of the first moving assembly line and the place where workers first were offered $5-a-day wages—but today, there are few signs to show the significance of the old Ford plant in the struggling Detroit suburb Highland Park beyond the Model T name on an adjacent shopping center.
That could change if a Motor City community and economic development group has its way. The Woodward Avenue Action Association, known as WA3, is launching a new crowdsource fundraiser intended to not only save the historic factory but possibly help turn it into a tourist and learning center, which is among the options under study for the building's future.
WA3's new crowdsourcing campaign is an initially modest one. The group needs $550,000 to acquire several of the remaining buildings on the property. It has already received more than $400,000 in grants and now hopes to raise another $125,000 to secure the purchase.
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Eventually, organizers say, they will need still more cash to begin restoration and renovation.
Designed by legendary architect Albert Kahn and once known as the Crystal Palace because of its large windows and abundant natural light, the Highland Park Assembly Plant was actually the third Ford Motor factory and the second to produce the Model T. But with huge demand for his "Tin Lizzie," Henry Ford desperately needed to increase production.
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