The Packard® Motor Car Foundation
Providing for the Future
Saving The Packard Proving Grounds (2002 - 2015)
The first major project of the Foundation was the saving of The Packard Proving Grounds Historic Site. We successfully completed a five-year agreement to establish the site with a gift of seven acres of property from Ford Motor Land Development Company that contains the architecturally important, Albert Kahn designed Lodge buildings, Garages, Timing stand, Lindbergh hangar, elevated water storage tank, portion of the test track, and Grand Entrance gates. We made arrangements with Ford Land to purchase the additional seven acres that we needed to complete the site. We have completed hooking up all new utilities and are preparing the site for its future use as a conference/event center adjacent to the proposed theme museums. Our success will depend on participation by all who are interested in historic preservation (not just Packard owners) and will insure that this last remaining historic treasure, from the golden era of American automobile production, is saved for a useful purpose. Current proposals for a master plan for the property include an "Arsenal of Democracy" museum dedicated to the contributions of all automobile companies during wartime, a museum of automotive testing covering all makes and companies, and facilities for catered events such as business meetings, weddings, and car-related shows and meets. Please consider a substantial multi-year pledge at this time to help with the restoration and endowment requirements that we need to meet to realize the master plan for the site. We will look back and be proud that we participated in the saving of this last remaining original property from the golden era of American automobile production. Click on any one of the thumbnails (Blue Border) below to see pages from a 1935 brochure about the Proving Grounds, an aerial view of the property, our Holiday lights, to see a nice view of the entrance gates in a Packard ad from 1932 or other links below. The other photos show progress that your donations have allowed us to make:
Click Links above or below.
VISITORS ARE WELCOME!
But, please call ahead to get directions and to make
sure someone will be here to greet you. Please call
the site well in advance of your planned visit at
If no one is in the office, please leave a message and
someone will call you back.
FALL OPEN HOUSE 2015: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2015. 1:00 to 5:00 PM.
NOTE: We will hold only one Open House this year, in the Fall.
Click Here for previous Fall Open House Photos
Click Here for previous Spring Open House Photos
Proving Grounds Update
An update to the Friends of the Foundation on the Packard Proving Grounds: We have now completed our twelfth year at the Packard Proving Grounds Historic Site and have made good progress thanks to the generous support of donors. Continued support will be critical as we now move forward in the creation and development of the museums and banquet facilities at the site. The latest project has been the creation of new restrooms in our Banquet center that allows us to host many new events. Previously we completed underground work for the utilities, following on the previously reported restoration of the doors on the Carriage garage, roof and chimney repair on the Lodge, the replacement of all window glass on the Lindbergh Hangar, and the recreation and replacement of all of the windows in the Engineering building. Previous work included masonry repair and new paint for all of the main buildings and the restoration of the Timing Stand at the back of the property next to the section of the original track we were able to save. The timing-stand work crew was headed up by Bruce Webster and Alan Mabbott and the results are wonderful. Click on the photo of the Hangar, the Timing Stand or Night Lights below to visit additional pages to see the progress.
A major improvement was made to the property in the summer of 2004 with the installation of a new roof on the flat portion of the repair garage and Chrysler Defense building (at considerable expense.) This included the repair and replacement of some trusses and beams. Original copper vents, gutters, and downspouts were carefully removed, refurbished or replaced with exact duplicates, and returned to their original locations (all to National Park Service standards for historic preservation.) This marks an important milestone in the preservation of the property as the new roof insures that no further deterioration will take place in any of the buildings. To the left you can see the new hot tar being applied; to the right, next to a portion of the beautiful multi-colored slate roof, is a photo showing some of the truss and beam repair in progress; and below is the finished product -- all nice and secure for future Michigan weather.
As previously reported, the developers have removed the former test track oval from the surrounding property with the exception of the section that we were able to save. We have saved and stored original timing marks and sections of the original guard rail to be returned to our historic portion. Development is well under way on the property around us and it's now more obvious than ever that if all of us interested in historic preservation had not joined in with the Foundation to save a portion of this site, that by now it would be nothing more than a memory. The Lindbergh aircraft hangar has been rescued from the infield and transported to our 14-acre site where it was securely installed on a new foundation. This type of small hangar has all but disappeared from the American landscape and will be one of the few preserved for posterity. It was given a new coat of paint in the summer of 2005 and some restoration work is being done on the rails that the doors slide on. Its connection to a period of industrial growth where Packard branched out into aeronautical and nautical areas will add further dimension to the historic site. All of this has been possible through your support and donations. We have had the utilities checked and upgraded and we have the power on in the buildings for the first time in many years.
The restoration and painting of the elevated water storage tank was completed in 2002 and through the generous donation of one of the Friends of the Foundation, the script lettering was returned for the first time since 1956. We are making good progress -- but much still remains to be done. All donations are directly applied to the restoration of the site as the overhead of the Foundation is taken care of by its Trustees. Touch-up work for the immediate protection of the historic artifacts has been undertaken in areas of painting on all buildings, window glass replacement on the Lodge, slate roof tiles on the Lodge and garage, structural shoring up and weather wrapping on the Timing Tower, and temporary fencing. All of these areas will need to be re-visited in coming years for complete restoration according to the master plan. Year three calls for major exterior work on the Lodge building and its attached garage area. This will make a positive impact on the appearance of the property with roof tile repair, stucco repair and paint, window repair and continued landscaping improvements. In addition, a generous local donation has allowed us to return the flag pole to the lawn area between our two entrance driveways. Our first Spring project for 2005 was called "The Elms of Honor" program and has shown a wonderful outpouring of community support. Please click on the photo below, of the Elm tree and water tower to visit our "Elms of Honor" page. Click on the small photo of the water tower to see some interesting aerial photos. Click on the small photo of the Michigan State Marker to see photos of the dedication ceremony. If you have previously donated to the site we thank you and look forward to your continued participation.
If not, we invite you to visit our online-donation page or to print out an application form for a mail-in, tax-deductible donation. The Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All donors will be listed in permanent displays or plaques at the Proving Grounds. Major donors: Please contact the Foundation President via the link on our home page regarding named opportunities. Thank you and please come back to visit our website from time to time for updates on our progress.
We are very pleased to announce that the Packard Proving Grounds Historic Site was added to the prestigious National Register of Historic Sites in 2007. Click on the photo below to visit our new National Register page. By the end of 2007 we had done a great deal of repair work to the Engineering building (previously known as the Chrysler Tank building, built by Chrysler during WW II ) and in need of new window sashes, frames, and glass, as well as new doors on the building. The photo below, right, is how the building looked with covered-over windows with removable panels to let light into the building.
It is amazing how much work and detail needs to be put into a project, that when completed is taken for granted and never given a second glance. The new frames had to be custom measured and built for the existing openings and carefully installed to keep the weather out. The new frames (left below) were primed and painted by our volunteers. A detail of a completed window is shown, below on the right.
An attractive building once more, below, with new paint, green trim, and correct windows.
In 2008, a local Boy Scout, Rob Germeroth, offered to restore the flagstone area in front of the Lodge front door (photo below left) as an Eagle Scout Advancement project. That year, we also did major work on the chimneys on the Lodge, including having bricks made to match the original ones, replacing bricks, new grout, and new flashing, making the Lodge weatherproof for the first time in many years.
In 2009 our major expenditure was to replace all of the underground utilities and to bring the property up to current code.
Meantime, the Foundation bought and saved one of the Packard Factory doorways (shown in 2000 when Foundation Trustees visited the Proving Grounds and Factory.) Restored the Lodge kitchen to its 1927 condition through the efforts of our fine group of volunteers, and did repair work on the Timing Stand including a new waterproof floor for the upper level. Photos below:
Progress continued as the Foundation cleaned out years of accumulation in the Lodge attic of various animal nests and droppings and installed a modern, up-to-date fire suppression system, did more underground work in preparation for new bathrooms in the event center, and got the plumbing working again in the Lodge. Photos below:
Your money at work continued with restoration of the Lodge garage doors and concrete repair under them and repair and refinish of Lodge bookcases and rear stairs by volunteer, Dean Lyons. Photos below:
And the restoration continued with a new foundation for the Power House, night-light illumination for all buildings and signs, and extensive chimney repair on the Repair Garage. Photos below:
At a Building & Grounds meeting, Trustee John MacArthur unveiled a new plaque honoring our most dedicated volunteers. A photo of those in attendance was taken and we thank those in the photo and all others for their dedication and loyalty to the historic site. Photo below:
Left to right: Jim Ridge, Roger Luksik, Keith Dromowicz, Bruce Blevins, Hilary Davis, John MacArthur (behind Hillary), Ken Hayden, Sue Tolonen (in front of Ken), Larry Telles, Sophie Griesbeck, Alan Mabbott, Bruce Webster, and Tom Mitchell.
Work continued, as funds allowed, with restoration of the Courtyard doors and north doors on the Repair Garage. Volunteer Jim Karcher is shown installing new glass in the north doors. Note beautifully recreated hinges to match the originals, lost to time. And our famous "Taxi Rides" at our open houses continued to be a big favorite of visitors. John MacArthur shown departing with a group. Photos below:
One of the most important and expensive upgrades was to create new restrooms and a bridal ready room in the Repair Garage (event center) so that we can better serve visitors and improve our income stream with weddings and events. The new restrooms are beautiful, functional, and decorated in keeping with the existing Albert Kahn architectural features of the property. Photos below:
We will appreciate your continued donations and will use them wisely to continue the restoration of this most important historic site.
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