Wyandotte Interactive Tour / Michigan Alkali Company Administration Building

Wyandotte, Michigan
1854 Wyandotte Village   |   Ford City   |   Glenwood & Mt. Carmel   |   South Wyandotte

 

 

G. Michigan Alkali Company Administration Building
The core building is an excellent example of early twentieth century corporate architecture designed by a Detroit architectural firm in 1907. It is associated with one of the primary industrialists in the development of the glass industry, one of the leading industrial entities of southeastern Michigan, and intimately associated with the history and development of Wyandotte.

A two story, brick Georgian Revival structure, the original building presents a studiously symmetrical seven-bay façade whose character is defined by a central pedimented pavilion, which shields recessed double entry doors flanked by narrow masonry pilasters supporting a segmental-arch broken pediment.

This feature is surmounted by multi-pane window with a classical entablature hoodmold. The pavilions perimeter is defined by rusticated brick pilasters that flank classical masonry columns in front and on either side of the entry doors. A cornice, supported by consoles extends from the pavilion to the flanking bays of the building and occurs beneath a parapet displaying recessed brick panels.

On October 17, 1890, Captain John Baptiste Ford (1811-1903) purchased this property along the Detroit River. He established the Michigan Alkali Company here in 1891. A flagpole still visible at an entrance north of the Administration Building, has the dates 1891-1941, erected at the company’s 50th anniversary.

Ford had financial interests in several glass companies and he chose the site for its proximity to resources needed to produce soda ash, a primary ingredient in the manufacture of glass. Water was used from the Detroit River to extract salt from deep strata below the site. Salt was mixed with limestone to produce a variety of sodium-based industrial and consumer products. The limestone was shipped from company-owned quarries near Alpena.

In the early years Michigan Alkali’s products included soda ash, baking soda, and lye.

Since incorporating in 1891, the company played an integral role in Wyandotte’s development. They contributed funds for the first Wyandotte General Hospital, erected in 1926. In 1943, Michigan Alkali consolidated with the J.B. Ford Company glassworks to become the Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation.

In 1979 it became part of the BASF group of companies, headquartered in Germany. BASF continues to use this Georgian Revival administration building, designed by the Detroit firm of Chittenden and Kotting and completed in 1907. Subsequent additions to the north have been made in a modern style for laboratory space.

Listed on the State Register of Historic Sites October 11, 1990, marker August 7, 1992. Wyandotte Historical Society plaque offered but not yet accepted.

The Michigan Historic Site marker reads:

Michigan Alkali Company

On October 17, 1890, Captain John Baptiste Ford (1811-1903) purchased this property along the Detroit River. He established the Michigan Alkali Company here in 1893. Ford had financial interests in several glass compaies and, he chose the site for its proximity to resources needed to produce soda ash, a primary ingredient in the manufacture of glass. The deep strata of pure salt beneath the site was most important. Water from the Detroit River was used to extract the salt in solution form. This salt was used with limestone to produce a variety of sodium-based industrial and consumer products. The limtestone was shipped from company-owned quarries near Alpena. In the early years Michigan Alkali’s products included soda ash, baking soda and lye.