DetroitOld Photographs

Briggs Manufacturing Fire – 1963

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.


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