Friday, April 26, 2013

Oak Park Power Company

This is facing north in 1907. You can see factory #06 in the background at the right just being built. This factory was for the model 35 and 34 Buick's. Electrical Review September 1906 update.

This view in 1907 shows the trees in the background running parallel with the rail line. You can also see factory #06 is in place in the background just beyond the Oak Park powerhouse. The two smoke stacks #46 at the right are from the Imperial Wheel works Company just barely visible.  You can see the area behind the factory is being graded in preparation for factories #07 and #10. Incorporation August 16, 1906.

Factory #06 is just visible off to the right in the distance. Mostly the Hamilton farm hay fields are still in place in this 1907 photo. I have still not found concrete evidence for the location of the Hamilton farm house. I may have seen it over near the rail line but have no close up that shows enough detail.  
The red arrow points to a new (steel) water tank being constructed in 1909.  The wooden tank has not yet fallen judging by the photo below which shows both tanks during the construction of this one.  Two tanks will be built in 1911 north of factory #02. This north-west view barely shows the smokestack of the powerhouse emitting smoke above factory #01 at the left. The tall metal stack  coming out of #01 was taking paint fumes out when this was the paint shop and transmission plant combined. Engines at this time were still coming from the Kearsley Street factory that was the first in Flint but was renumbered factory #02 after 1906. Go to the following link 

Buick Assembly Court Yard.

 and look at the second photo, just above the word CO. on the side of factory #01  just to the right you will notice the leftover stump of the steel stack mentioned above. 

 This would be shortly after the wooden tank fell. The new steel tank shown here is the same as what would be built in it's place. This particular tank did not last very long because it was in the way of future expansion.  Go here for more views of this area.
This photo is actually a little later than the one below. Factory #07 is almost complete and will  assemble the model 43 Buick's shortly. Factory #10 already has the second floor being erected. This #10 should not be confused with plant #10 built at the beginning of World War II. The men in charge and the location shown above is from the Flint City Directory of 1915.

This closeup of the Oak Park Power Company would have been taken while factory #07 is just being built in the background during 1908. You can see the one story gas house has also been rebuilt on the north side of the powerhouse. I still do not have much information on the gas house other than what is reported in the insurance article. I did find that Buick built a new gas plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1913 for what it's worth.

Go here for actual site

This west view shows Weston-Mott #2 in the background.
This east view shows Buick #07 in the background.
The yellow lines show the exact spots in all three pictures. This is the same as described further below. Basically we're seeing the two different water tanks used for the fire suppression system. The blue outline shows the addition done to factory #01 which saw many such additions from 1906 to it's end in 1963. The green outline  shows the added smoke stack and enlargement of the powerhouse to the north. You will notice in the color postcard view that the powerhouse did not yet have a proper brick smokestack. Go to the following link for a seldom seen view of the second water tank. 

Postcard Find

The yellow line points out the same spot in this before and after shot of the powerhouse facing north. The original is hardly recognisable after all the expansions.
Just a bit different view north up the old rail spur between the factories. Some of these rails were left in place and could still be found in some areas covered with blacktop (Tarvia-top) in the early 1980's before the creation of Buick City. In my time this was the entrance off of Hamilton Avenue to factory #04. The #31 should not be confused with the axle plant #31 that took over this number after World War II.
Showing how large the powerhouse became in two years. Factory #10 just to the right or north of the water tower (in the 1908 view)  is shown larger than it would actually be when built in 1909. Factories #06, #07, #10 and #16 were all built using the same blueprint. The small structure shown at the southeast corner of factory #01 (left foreground) was never built.
Showing the proposed east annex of the powerhouse that is shown further below. Go here for the east annex view.
Just a closeup of the #26 powerhouse sometime after 1910 because factory #10 is now shown directly north. Factory #10 was the model 28 and 29 assembly plant at this time, with the closed body Buick's being built there in 1916. Touring cars were still the norm. in 1910.
This 1911 layout is not all entirely correct. The Brass works and truck garage proposals shown were not built in these locations.  Click on the link for the complete story: General Electric wires Buick.
I have found nothing further on this explosion at the powerhouse in 1912. This was found in the "Locomotive  Trade".
Facing north over the Buick site in 1920. You can see the new #14 powerhouse being built on Leith Street which will replace #26. I have also marked the location of the (far in the future)  #07 powerhouse that replaced #14 in the early 1970's. The old Weston-Mott powerhouse #6 was renumbered Buick #36 in 1913. The #36 designation would be used again later for the engine plant in the early 50's.
Here we can see the east wall of #26 shortly before demolition. This portion of the powerhouse only lasted 10 years.
This east facing view has Hamilton and Industrial Avenue in the lower foreground. The main building of the powerhouse #26 has the two large stacks. The small stack in the distance would at this time be #36 power house which is the old Weston-Mott #6.
This east facing close-up shows a conveyor leading to the power house. This is after the #14 power plant on Leith Street has been built so this was not used for long as shown below.
Facing south during demolition in 1921. This is the coal off-loading area for #26 powerhouse. Barely visible at the left is factory #07. Look to the far distance in the right background for the bridge that connects factory #08 with #04. You will notice the northern most smokestack has now been almost entirely removed. Paul Williams who does the Buick facebook site had no further information on this photo.
I think this is late 1909. This view is facing west,

This view is facing south-west.

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