Briggs Manufacturing Fire – 1963

August 13, 2010

It’s been a long while since we’ve poked our head over to the US side of the international metropolis, but seeing as it’s Friday, and time for an old photograph, this is one that caught my eye, a stunning photo that really captures the fire that befell the Briggs Manufacturing Company on Detroit’s east side April 10, 1963.

The Briggs Manufacturing Co. made automotive bodies for the major automotive companies. This plant was located at Meldrum and Mack, and the block long five storey building building went up in a spectacular fire. At the time of the fire Briggs was a division of Chrysler.

This plant was originally built to house the American Automotive Trimming Co. The Canadian branch was located in Walkerville, and was called the Canadian Automotive Trimming Co. The company later changed its name and became Gotfredson.

A good history of the Briggs Corp. can be found here. Interestingly enough, the Briggs Co. is still around today, after having sold their automotive interests, they retained their “Beautyware” line of plumbing fixtures, a business they are still in today.

A victim of the fire was the neighbouring Our Lady Of Sorrows Catholic Church, which was destroyed by the blaze and later demolished. Some photos of the church during the fire can be found here at The Virtual Motor City.

Someone’s car didn’t make out so well… :)

Photos capture a moment in time, this photo is no exception, while the firefighters battle the blaze, and neighbours gather to watch, note the utility truck at the hydro pole trying to cut the power to the plant.

The land remained industrial, with a new warehouse/factory having been erected, however the parking lot on the south east corner of Benson & Meldrum was the site of Our Lady of Sorrows. However the parrish held a huge fund raiser and less than a year later in 1964, the new Our Lady of Sorrows was dedicated and opened directly across the street.

Have a good weekend everyone – see you back here Monday.


3 Responses to Briggs Manufacturing Fire – 1963

  1. Dave on August 13, 2010 at 7:00 am

    And yet it is just one prairie in hundreds of former neighbourhoods in Detroit. The way Windsor and it’s suburbs act and behave it will only be time before this starts happening in Windsor (vacancies).
    We have a perfect model on how not to interact with one another right across the river and yet we are doing the same thing. How stupid?!

  2. Mike on August 13, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Dave, your comment hits the nail on the head. For years I’ve used the analogy that if the Story of Detroit is 10 chapters long, Windsor is following exactly in its footsteps and we’re at chapter 4. Lack of regional planning policy, rezoning of ag land to commercial and residential (especially when there is no population growth to warrant it)and a general short sighted approach to development will take us exactly into the mess Detroit is in. Fortunately, there are a few new faces running for city council who I’ve spoken to who share these views, and they want to do something about it. Let’s get the right people elected.

  3. Richard McIntyre on August 13, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Where does the comment about one more prarie, and urban sprawl apply, the factory and the church where rebuilt.If you want to commrnt about the decline of Detroit, and also Windsor the example of the above factory and church conterdick your comments. They rebuit not move out.

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