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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
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    Jive-Bomber
    MODERATOR

  2. Model A John
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    Model A John Member

    Interesting story. I didn't know about the Rotunda burning down.
  3. theHIGHLANDER
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    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
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    JeffreyJames Member

    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...

    [​IMG]

    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
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    thunderbirdesq Member

  6. Doohickey
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    Doohickey Member

    Great history lesson. Thanks.
  7. Doohickey
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    Doohickey Member

    Awesome pic!
  8. Hot Rods Ta Hell
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    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.

    Attached Files:

  9. Rikster
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    Rikster Member

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

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  10. JeffreyJames
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    JeffreyJames Member

    Rikster coming through once again!
  11. beauishere
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    beauishere Member

    Thanks guys. I never knew a thing about it. This place is better then school. Aloha
  12. sololobo
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    49ratfink Member

    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
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    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
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    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
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    Rikster Member

  19. Rikster
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    Rikster Member

  20. mctim64
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    mctim64
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    Ditto!
  21. dragway classic
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    dragway classic Member

    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
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    FASI Member

    Another little facet of this fire. The Ford archives were in an adjacent wing and fortunately were saved.
  23. Deuces
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    Deuces Member

    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...

    Attached Files:

  24. ProEnfo
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    ProEnfo Member

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

    CC

    Attached Files:

  25. 4t7flat
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    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
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    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
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    moefuzz Member

    great story and pics,

    An interesting building with an interesting history.

    To bad it's not standing tall today.


    .
  29. dprodder
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    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
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    str8axle55 Member

    Cool history lesson, never knew of it before.

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