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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.

Back to School

Doty Elementary on 3rd Street (Steve Shaw, c. 1980)

Doty Elementary on 3rd Street (Steve Shaw, c. 1980)

It’s that time of year again – shopping for supplies, waiting for the bus. If you attended grade school in the Detroit area, maybe it’s been a long time since you saw a picture of your elementary school, or maybe that school is no longer even standing.
These are examples of the schools of which you can find many images in our online digital collections. Whether you were a student in the city, the suburbs or even a rural one room schoolhouse, have a look and step back in time. If you don’t see a school you are looking for yet, check back often as we are continuously adding to the digital collection. If you have any photos of schools that you would like to donate to the Society, please contact adaml@detroithistorical.org
– D.S.

Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Mt. Clemens (Deborah Moore, 1983)

Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Mt. Clemens (Deborah Moore, 1983)

Media Center at Woodworth Junior High in Dearborn (Lewis, 1984)

Media Center at Woodworth Junior High in Dearborn (Lewis, 1984)

Moving Day for the World’s Largest Stove

2013.061.020

The booms of a fire truck, and a utility company cherry picker truck are being used to lift a traffic signal cable that spans Mack Avenue, as the stove approaches.

Large home appliances are always a pain to move, but be grateful you have never had to move an appliance as big as a team of volunteers did in Detroit in 1965. Prior to the dominance of the auto industry, Detroit was well known as the home to several major stove manufacturers. One of them, the Michigan Stove Company, commissioned the “World’s Largest Stove,” made of 15 tons of hand-carved oak, as their contribution to the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Following the fair, the stove was brought to the city to stand as a landmark outside of the Michigan Stove Company’s headquarters at Jefferson Avenue and Adaire Street. After the Michigan Stove Company merged with the Detroit Stove Works in 1927, the stove was moved up the road to the newly formed Detroit-Michigan Stove Company just east of the Douglas MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle. Unfortunately, in 1955, the shift toward modern gas and electric ranges put the Detroit-Michigan Stove Company out of business. A decade later, when developers expressed interest in the land beneath the stove’s four mighty legs, a coalition of city officials, private companies, and individuals came together to save the landmark.
2013.061.020

The Don Cartage Company truck carrying the giant stove turns north from McNichols Road, onto Woodward Avenue.

The Michigan State Fairgrounds were selected as the new home for the stove. The stove, together with the flatbed truck used for the move to this new site, required 27 feet of clearance. An 18-mile route was drawn up for the truck to avoid overpasses and other low-hanging obstructions. Detroit Edison and Michigan Bell workers were included in the stove’s procession to raise and—if necessary—cut low-hanging power and utility lines. The stove left its long-time home at 4:16 a.m. on Sunday, April 11, 1965 to avoid as much traffic as possible. The rather convoluted route took the stove, crawling at about five miles per hour, east on Jefferson to St. Jean Street, then north to Mack Avenue. From there it headed east to Conner Street, on which it stayed until veering west along McNichols Road to Van Dyke Avenue. From Van Dyke it proceeded north to 8 Mile Road. The direct path along 8 Mile to Woodward Avenue was blocked by a railroad overpass, so the route called for the stove to snake around to the Fairgrounds by taking Oakland Street (where I-75 presently runs) south back to McNichols. From there the stove had a clear path west to Woodward, then north to the bus terminal turnaround at the Fairgrounds. After just over nine hours, the stove arrived at the fairgrounds, where it was installed opposite the bus stop.
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Spectators, including two children perched in a tree, watch the World’s Largest Stove approach the Michigan State Fairgrounds.

Despite the giant stove’s long trek, it was still not out of harm’s way. By 1974, the then 80-year old wooden monument had fallen into disrepair. It was dismantled and moved away from the elements into storage. Although it was out of view for the next 24 years, the stove never vanished from the hearts of Detroiters. In time for the 150th anniversary of the Michigan State Fair in 1998, a fund raising campaign provided the Detroit Historical Museum the means to restore and reassemble the stove at the fairgrounds. Tragically, after another 13 years of display, the World’s Largest Stove was severely burned after being struck by lightning on August 14, 2011. Pieces of the charred remains were recently displayed in the Detroit Historical Museum. –B.R.
The green line on this map traces the path of the World’s Largest Stove during its 1965 move.  Oakland Street, across which the stove traveled south from 8 Mile Road to McNichols during the final leg of its journey, is the current site of a stretch of I-75.

The green line on this map traces the path of the World’s Largest Stove during its 1965 move. Oakland Street, across which the stove traveled south from 8 Mile Road to McNichols during the final leg of its journey, is the current site of a stretch of I-75.

Kennedy Square

1961, the debris of Old City Hall.

1961, the debris of Old City Hall.

Much like the Kern Block, Kennedy Square was a mid-century development on the site of a razed historic Downtown Detroit building. Old City Hall stood from 1871 to 1961 on the west side of Campus Martius. Although its demolition was bitterly contested, arguments against the building’s unfashionable color and style, lack of fire safety, and outdated elevators and plumbing eventually won out. The seat of government had already moved to the City-County Building in 1954, making the Old City Hall obsolete.

 

A marker was dedicated to Old City Hall in 1971.

A marker was dedicated to Old City Hall in 1971.

Msgr. Edward J. Hickey and Hudson Mead at the ceremony.

Msgr. Edward J. Hickey and Hudson Mead at the ceremony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1962

1962

In its place appeared Old City Hall Park, a placeholder until the site could be redeveloped. This spartan park lasted until 1965 when it was torn up to construct a parking garage capped by a concrete plaza named Kennedy Square. A large fountain dominated the new park but it was plagued with problems. Leaks, maintenance costs, and safety concerns lead to the water being turned off for the final time in the late 1970s. The barren plaza then stood without improvement until construction began on One Kennedy Square in 2005.

Many more images of Kennedy Square can be found in our online digital collection. – D.S.

1964, view of the park displays the city’s hope of hosting a Summer Olympic Games.

1964, view of the park displays the city’s hope of hosting a Summer Olympic Games.

1965, construction of the parking garage.

1965, construction of the parking garage.

c. 1972

c. 1972

c. 1966

c. 1966

The Kern Block

c. 1968

c. 1968

The Kern Block is one of Downtown’s quickly forgotten landmarks from the recent past. Today you will find the modern Compuware Building sitting on its site, but from 1966 to 1999 it was a large and mostly empty city park. Unlike most Downtown parks, the pentagon shaped greenspace lacked shade trees, monuments or fountains. At the heart of the Campus Martius area, it perennially failed to attract development.

The park got its name from Kern’s department store which expanded on the block from 1900 until its closing in 1959 and demolition in 1966. This foreshadowed the closing and eventual demolition of the Hudsons department store across Gratiot Avenue. The widely recognized clock on the exterior of Kern’s was saved and rededicated on the site where it can still be seen today. – D.S.

1970s (Marty Medvedik)

1970s (Marty Medvedik)

1973 (Andre Franklin)

1973 (Andre Franklin)

1920s drawing

1920s drawing

1970s (Marty Medvedik)

1970s (Marty Medvedik)

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