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Ford Rotunda: From Deco Dream to Flaming Fiasco

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 2,580

    Jive-Bomber
    MODERATOR
    from Moraga, Ca

  2. Model A John
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 1,668

    Model A John
    Member
    from wichita ks

    Interesting story. I didn't know about the Rotunda burning down.
     
  3. theHIGHLANDER
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 5,023

    theHIGHLANDER
    Member

    Boy does this dig through the cobwebs in my skull! I faintly remember visiting the xmas displays as a child. I remember the trees being so big and all the puppets and figures, a real child's fantasy land for xmas. I also remember Mom crying when it burned. It was a regular thing for her, visiting the Rotunda for the holidays. Thanks for posting it. Kool piece of history.
     
  4. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,388

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    What a shame. Kahn was definitely a treasure for Detroit designing quite a few prominent buildings that made up the skyline of the time. He did the Packard Build early on...

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    Also he designed well as many others like the Detroit Police headquarters. The Rotunda was definitely a case in point of his German Heritage as far as design goes. Industry was his his design principle's primary drive and that building showcased the strength and place of Ford Motor company during that time.



    Funny if it were here today and looked like the Packard building it also would show the current state of Ford hahahaha!!!!
     
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  5. thunderbirdesq
    Joined: Feb 15, 2006
    Posts: 6,281

    thunderbirdesq
    Member

  6. Doohickey
    Joined: Jul 19, 2009
    Posts: 33

    Doohickey
    Member

    Great history lesson. Thanks.
     
  7. Doohickey
    Joined: Jul 19, 2009
    Posts: 33

    Doohickey
    Member

  8. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 2,078

    Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Member

    Such a loss. San Diego has a "Rotunda" style building in Balboa park. The Ford building, built in 1935 for the Cal. exposition. It sat vacant for decades and was slated for possible demolition, however a group opened it into what is now a fantastic air and space museum. Located next to the San Diego auto museum, both are worth a tour if you're ever in town.
    Drew Ford, a local family owned dealership since 1927, built a Rotunda style inspired showroom in 1967. IIRC, there were a couple of other Rotunda styled buildings elsewhere in the country (New York, Texas?) so the style lives on.
     

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  9. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,693

    Rikster
    Member

    I came across these photos on ebay some time ago...

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  10. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,388

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    Rikster coming through once again!
     
  11. beauishere
    Joined: Mar 17, 2004
    Posts: 607

    beauishere
    Member

    Thanks guys. I never knew a thing about it. This place is better then school. Aloha
     
  12. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 6,826

    sololobo
    Member

    What a great historic lesson, I was not aware of this awesome structure that hit my mid-century modern fetish like a sledgehammer. What a tragic ending, special thanx to The Rickster for coming thru with the super pix. I hope others on the forum appreciate these history lessons like I do. Thanx dudes, you rock as always. ~Sololobo~
     
  13. terry48435
    Joined: Jun 23, 2010
    Posts: 423

    terry48435
    Member

    Man, does that bring back memories. I remember going there in the mid '50s when I was a kid to see the christmas display. That staircase is where they had Santa and you lined up on the stairs to see him sitting at the top.
     
  14. JCShiels
    Joined: Jul 19, 2009
    Posts: 76

    JCShiels
    Member

    I also remember the Christmas displays, especially the model trains and the huge minature circus. My Grandfather worked for Ford and watched it burn from his office building. I remember hearing the reports of the fire on the radio, sad day indeed.
     
  15. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 14,520

    49ratfink
    Member
    from California

    I always wondered what a rotunda was. I had a Ford oil filter with "Rotunda" on it.

    I learn something new every day here. some of it I even remember.
     
  16. theHIGHLANDER
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 5,023

    theHIGHLANDER
    Member

    Rikster those are incredible. In the 4th pic down where the Rouge plant is in the background...I believe it was some time in the 70s, one of those towers burned down as well. I was surprised that it was burning and Dad told me it was made of wood. WOOD! Wow, good ol Henry. We lived in near by Allen Park and could see the glow of the fire that night. Dad was good sport. He took me and my brother for a ride to see it closer.
     
  17. Rolleiflex
    Joined: Oct 25, 2007
    Posts: 587

    Rolleiflex
    Member

    I've seen pictures of the Rotunda in the past, but I didn't realize that the building dated back to the 1930s. It's pretty incredible that a building designed in the '30s still looked up to date at the time of its demise in the 1960s. I wonder what became of the sign out front of it. I sure hope someone out there has it and is treasuring it for what it is.
     
  18. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,693

    Rikster
    Member

  19. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,693

    Rikster
    Member

  20. Ditto!
     
  21. dragway classic
    Joined: Jan 9, 2010
    Posts: 100

    dragway classic
    Member
    from U.P.

    great photos,I also remember the train layout with the circus.They were putting tar on the roof and fire started.I have 8mm,somewhere of building a blaze.
     
  22. FASI
    Joined: May 11, 2001
    Posts: 1,068

    FASI
    Member

    Another little facet of this fire. The Ford archives were in an adjacent wing and fortunately were saved.
     
  23. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 11,996

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    I've been meaning to take a ride by the place where the mighty Rotanda building once stood and take some pictures.. I"m only about a minute er two away from the area...
     

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  24. ProEnfo
    Joined: Sep 28, 2005
    Posts: 1,497

    ProEnfo
    Member
    from Motown

    The 'Rotunda' filters were also formed in the shape of the building..

    CC
     

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  25. 4t7flat
    Joined: Apr 15, 2009
    Posts: 265

    4t7flat
    Member

    I remember the day the Rotunda burned. From the parking lot of Edsel Ford High you could see the Smoke rising. Drove by about 10pm and it was still smoking. I used to ride my bike two miles to visit the Rotunda on my own. I just sold some of the 50th aniversary(1953) plastic tokens they used to make right there. The plastic molding machine would run continusly spitting out these tokens,which were free.
     
  26. Steve Hedke
    Joined: Sep 28, 2005
    Posts: 72

    Steve Hedke
    Member

    Only one problem: it's not Art Deco, it's Streamline Moderne. Kinda goofs up your title, but people make this mistake all the time.
     
  27. Cool story! Now where did you score the shift knob?
     
  28. moefuzz
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 4,896

    moefuzz
    Member

    great story and pics,

    An interesting building with an interesting history.

    To bad it's not standing tall today.


    .
     
  29. dprodder
    Joined: Aug 6, 2010
    Posts: 30

    dprodder
    Member

    I've got a '34 with that knob, a guy from Texas was interested but it wouldn't loosen easily so there it stays. Thanks for the history, now I know what that was all about.
     
  30. str8axle55
    Joined: Dec 19, 2006
    Posts: 351

    str8axle55
    Member
    from MA

    Cool history lesson, never knew of it before.
     

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