Uncovering the treasures of Detroit …

Latest

Marine Pollution Control

Marine Pollution Control’s barges, the BUDA I and BUDA II, pictured at the company’s dock on the Rouge River.

Marine Pollution Control’s barges, the BUDA I and BUDA II, pictured at the company’s dock on the Rouge River.

Since 1967, Detroit Marine Pollution Control has helped defend that “pleasant peninsula” touted in the Michigan State motto. The firm has grown from their modest headquarters on the Rouge River to respond to ecological disasters around the world, including the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill and the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Within the collections of the Detroit Historical Society are a series of slides and photos from the 1970s showcasing the activities of the company.
The capsized Erie Sand Steamship Company freighter SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. was the focus of an early high profile operation by Marine Pollution Control. On June 5, 1972, the SMITH collided with another freighter, the PARKER EVANS, along the St. Clair River near Port Huron. While the EVANS was left afloat with a damaged bow, the SMITH rolled onto its starboard side, sinking in thirty feet of water. With this new impediment lying across the bed of the St. Clair River, the river’s currents began sweeping the river bottom from beneath the hull. As the bow began to sink deeper, the hull began to break apart exposing vulnerable fuel tanks which held 49,000 gallons of oil. Marine Pollution Control was among an international team of organizations tasked with mitigating this impending disaster.
This Marine Pollution Control boat tests an inflatable oil containment boom for a crowd of onlookers.

This Marine Pollution Control boat tests an inflatable oil containment boom for a crowd of onlookers.

In order to contain the fuel spilled and within the wreck’s tanks, Marine Pollution Control and the U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force deployed oil containment booms—barriers that float on the surface of the water. With these precautions in place, the team cut through the exposed portion of the ship’s hull to access its tanks. Marine Pollution Control employed their vacuum barge, the BUDA II, to help pump oil from the wreck. The instability of the still-crumbling wreck, and the cold water temperatures which caused the oil to congeal, created stumbling blocks for the operation. Despite these issues the oil-removal portion of the effort was successfully concluded on June 14, leaving the task of removal of the wreck itself to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Marine Pollution Control is one of many groups who help negotiate the uneasy dual nature of our waterways as both a fragile ecosystem yet also as an important vein of industry and commerce. This duality is further explored in the exhibit, “Troubled Waters: Healing Our Freshwater Habitats,” currently open at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum until June 2015. –B.R.
Workers use an old steam-powered pump to suction oil through the side of the capsized SIDNEY E. SMITH, JR.

Workers use an old steam-powered pump to suction oil through the side of the capsized SIDNEY E. SMITH, JR.

Detroit’s Song

The Detroit Schottisch, 1854

The Detroit Schottisch, 1854

We all know “New York, New York” and “Sweet Home Chicago”, but does Detroit have its own quintessential anthem? Browsing through the many hundreds of sheet music titles in our online digital collection, you will come across dozens of pieces that have been written about the city through the years. Most were probably published with the hopes of becoming that one song to endure as the city’s calling card. It seems that each generation takes a stab at composing a memorable melody about Detroit, but none have yet to stick. Which of these do you think we should revive?

The Detroit, 1886

The Detroit, 1886

 

 

 

 

Our earliest examples are instrumentals, played to accompany dances in the 1850s. The first to have lyrics was “Detroit”, composed in 1899. Several songs were written for events: “Hang Your Hat in Detroit” welcomed the 1910 Elks Grand Lodge Reunion, “A Real, Live, Regular Town” promoted Cadillaqua, and “It’s Detroit” and “Detroit” went along with the city’s 250th birthday.
Here’s a look at some of the contenders. To see images of all the pages, find each one in the digital collection. Which gets your vote? – D.S.

Hang Your Hat in Detroit, 1910

Hang Your Hat in Detroit, 1910

Detroit Town is a Good Old Town, 1916

Detroit Town is a Good Old Town, 1916

Detroit U.S.A., 1967

Detroit U.S.A., 1967

Song of Detroit, The City With a Heart, 1950

Song of Detroit, The City With a Heart, 1950


Detroit, 1951

Detroit, 1951


Detroit, 1899

Detroit, 1899


Greater Detroit, 1910

Greater Detroit, 1910

Song of Detroit, 1931

Song of Detroit, 1931


Detroit: Always R’arin’ To Go, 1926 “De-troit, De-troit, you’re in an aw-ful plight, You’re grow-ing out of all your pant-ies al-most o-ver night.”

Detroit: Always R’arin’ To Go, 1926
“De-troit, De-troit, you’re in an aw-ful plight, You’re grow-ing out of all your pant-ies al-most o-ver night.”

Brodhead Armory

Postcard, c. 1946.

Postcard, c. 1946.

One of Detroit’s historic landmarks currently at risk of demolition is the Brodhead Armory, also known as the Detroit Naval Armory. This limestone Art Deco building was constructed in 1930 and designed by William B. Stratton, husband of Mary Chase Stratton who founded Pewabic Pottery. It can be found on the south side of East Jefferson Avenue, nestled between Gabriel Richard Park and River Terrace Apartments.

(G. Garner, 1970s)

(G. Garner, 1970s)

 

Although disused since 2004, Brodhead Armory was a significant military training center, with a large gymnasium also used for trade shows and sporting events. Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke here on his campaign trail. Hollywood leading lady Jean Harlow attended its dedication ceremony. It is the last remaining site in Detroit where Joe Louis fought, where in 1934 he defeated Canadian Al Delaney. Brodhead Armory was later highlighted as one of the main venues to be used during Detroit’s series of failed Olympic bids in the 1960s.
The building itself features WPA murals by David Fredenthal, though they have been damaged over the years of abandonment. There are also wood carvings by Gustave Hildebrand, and Pewabic plaques on the exterior. Unfortunately, the premises is unsecured and has been looted of most of its distinctive architectural details, but there is still a chance for an influx of new ideas and funding sources to help it recover.
– D.S.

Students gathered along the East side of the building, 1930s.

Students gathered along the East side of the building, 1930s.

William Bushnell Stout: Automotive

Cutaway drawing of a Stout Scarab, 1932.

Cutaway drawing of a Stout Scarab, 1932.

1935 Wrigley Scarab

1935 Wrigley Scarab

In addition to aircraft, Stout Engineering Laboratories also designed several automobiles during the 1930s-1940s, the most notable of which is the Stout Scarab. The Scarab featured many innovative designs, including a spacious interior, a configurable seating arrangement, and a small card table, making the Scarab a predecessor of the modern minivan. An experimental version of the Scarab, produced in 1946, featured the first automotive fiberglass body. Ultimately, the modern design and high cost of the Scarab made the cars undesirable to buyers at the time, especially when compared with other contemporary automobiles like the bestselling Fords and Chevrolets. Today, however, the Scarab is considered an ahead-of-its-time design and one of the best examples of Art Deco design applied to automobiles. The 1946 fiberglass Scarab and 1935 Scarab, previously owned by the Wrigley family, are in the Detroit Historical Society’s automobile collection.

Dearborn Coach Co. bus, 1936.

Dearborn Coach Co. bus, 1936.

 

Stout also applied the design principles of the Scarab to the design of a bus for Gar Wood Industries, which was put into service by the Dearborn Coach Co. Many more images from the Society’s William Bushnell Stout collection can be found in our online digital collection, and you can learn more about the man in the Museum’s Gallery of Innovation.
-D.P.

William Bushnell Stout: Skycar

Skycar, c. 1930.

Skycar, c. 1930.

William Bushnell Stout worked for Ford as a designer until 1930 when he left to pursue designing aircraft and automobiles at his Stout Engineering Laboratory. The most notable aircraft designed by Stout during this time was the Stout Skycar, which was a lightweight personal aircraft intended to be as simple and affordable as a personal automobile. Four variations of the Skycar were built between 1931 and 1944. Stout also drew up conceptual renderings of numerous other types of aircraft with similar designs to the Skycar, including the Stout Safety Car and an airplane with an attached trailer, and applied the design concepts of his streamlined aircraft fuselage’s to the design of the Pullman Railplane. – D.P.

Concept drawing of airplane with attached trailer, c. 1941.

Concept drawing of airplane with attached trailer, c. 1941.

Pullman Railplane painting, 1933.

Pullman Railplane painting, 1933.

William Bushnell Stout: Ford Motor Co. & Stout Air Lines

Stout standing underneath a Stout 2-AT Pullman, “Maiden Dearborn”, 1925.

Stout standing underneath a Stout 2-AT Pullman, “Maiden Dearborn”, 1925.

After the failure of his military aircraft designs, William Bushnell Stout began a private fundraising campaign and ultimately raised enough money to establish the Stout Metal Airplane Company, which was soon purchased by Ford Motor Company, becoming the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company. He developed the Stout 2-AT Pullman, which was a single engine aircraft that was used in early passenger airline travel and as transport planes. The three engine follow-up, the Stout 3-AT, did not perform well, but led to the design of the Stout 4-AT, better known as the Ford Tri-Motor airplane.

Stout Air Lines Ford-Tri-Motor airplane, signed  by Bill Stout, c. 1930.

Stout Air Lines Ford-Tri-Motor airplane, signed by Bill Stout, c. 1930.

 

The Ford Tri-Motor was one of the most successful airplanes of the 1920s. Stout used the Tri-Motor to establish Stout Air Services, which was the first regularly scheduled passenger airline in America. The airline was operated out of Ford Airport in Dearborn, and flew passengers between Dearborn, Chicago, and Cleveland. The airline continued under the Stout name until it was acquired by National Air Transport in 1930.
– D.P.

Advertisement c. 1927.

Advertisement c. 1927.

William Bushnell Stout: Early Military Aircraft

Stout Batwing under construction in a Motor Products Corporation plant, 1918.

Stout Batwing under construction in a Motor Products Corporation plant, 1918.

William Bushnell Stout was one of the most pioneering automotive and aviation designers of the early twentieth century. He was Chief Engineer for the Scripps-Booth Automobile Company beginning in 1914 and several years later joined the Packard Motor Car Company as its General Sales Manager. Stout became Packard’s Chief Engineer of its aviation division when the division was created in 1916, which led to some of his earliest notable aviation developments.
While still with Packard, Stout was appointed as an advisor to the Aircraft Production Board which awarded him a contract to build the Stout Batwing. The aircraft, funded by the Motor Products Corporation, was designed as a blended wing body aircraft, which is a type of aircraft with no distinct fuselage. One prototype was built and flown, but the project was abandoned due to poor visibility.
William Bushnell Stout in the cockpit of a Stout ST-1, 1922.

William Bushnell Stout in the cockpit of a Stout ST-1, 1922.

Several years later, Stout built another military prototype, the metal Stout ST-1 twin-engine torpedo bomber. The prototype was first flown by pilot Eddie Stinson. The prototype crashed in 1922, which led to the US Navy canceling all orders of the aircraft. – D.P.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 275 other followers

%d bloggers like this: