Hudson Motor Car Company/Clayton-Lambert Manufacturing/
General Motors Cadillac Division/Ivan Doverspike Company

9501 Connor on the far east side of Detroit

The Packard and Hudson Motor Car firms were the most successful and long-lived of the Detroit auto producers that were never incorporated into the Big Three. Roy Chapin organized a new auto firm in March, 1909 using the capital and name of the entrepreneur who ran the city’s largest department store: Hudson. By July of that year, the firm began turning out cars in a factory at Beaufait and Mack that had been built for the Aerocar Company that went bankrupt a few years earlier. Hudson sales were strong and in 1911, the firm bought a large expanse of land near the intersection of East Jefferson and Connor when the new Jefferson Avenue Chrysler plant is now located. By 1912, Hudson commissioned Albert Kahn to design modern factories for their land.

The success of Hudson continued after World War I. Hudson was the marque used for their high-quality, medium-priced car while, beginning in 1919, they used the Essex marque for a much lower-priced model. In 1919, the Hudson firm produced and sold about 39,000 cars in the two lines, but this grew to 46,000 the next year and continued to rise to 134,000 cars in 1934. Clearly, Hudson needed more production facilities, so another complex of factories arose near the intersection of Connor and Gratiot linked by rail to the older factories at East Jefferson and Connor.

Most of the plants in the complex at Jefferson and Conner have been razed, but not the one shown above. I believe this building was constructed in the early 1920s by the Clayton-Lambert firm, a company that produced bodies for Hudson. As Hudson sales went up, they decided to buy this supplier, so this building may have become the Hudson stamping plant for bodies as early as 1922 or, perhaps, as late as 1926. J. S. Long’s definitive biography: Roy D. Chapin: The Man Behind the Hudson Motor Car Company (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1945 and 2004) is not clear on this point. Hudson bodies were produced here until auto production in Detroit ceased in 1955. Three years later, I believe, GM purchased the building and used it to produce body parts for Cadillacs until the new Poletown Plant opened in 1984. It sat idle for some years, but was them obtained by Ivan Doverspike—a firm that reconditions and remanufactures used automatic screw and spindle machines.

Architect: Unknown but this might be an Albert Kahn Building.
Architectural style: Automobile stamping plant in the style of the post World War I era
Date of construction: About 1920
City of Detroit Local Historic District: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Use in 2005: Home of the Doverspike firm
Photograph: Ren Farley; August, 2005

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