packard electric

Sometimes the best part of urban exploration is the discovery phase. The moment you call up a detail or two (here it was “Plant 8”, “Paige Ave NE” and “Griswold St NE”) and discover you’ve found something huge, something wildly historic.

You’d never know by looking at this image how important this cluster of buildings were to Warren, Ohio.  The complex on the right is the former GM Delphi Packard Electric Plant 8, and the buildings in the distance on the left are portions of Plant 3 and 5.  At one point Packard Electric employed 6,500.

William Doud and James Ward Packard formed the Packard Electric Company in 1890, manufacturing carbon arc lamps and eventually electrical cables for cars, appliances, and aircraft.  GM bought the business in 1932 and renamed it Delphi Packard Electric Systems.  It became independent of GM in 1999, spun off as Delphi Automotive Systems and eventually closed in 2006.

This is all very interesting to me, but the Packards were also involved in building cars, forming the Ohio Automotive Company in 1900.  Strapped for cash, the Packards offered shares of the company that were purchased by investors backing Detroit capitalist Henry B. Joy, who took over the company, renamed it Packard Motor Car Company, and moved its operations to Detroit.  Yes, these Warren-born brothers were responsible for the birth of the iconic Packard automotive brand.  And yes, their name is on the now-infamous Packard Plant ruins in Detroit.

A rare selfie.  Little did I know about an hour after chuckling in this mirror I would be cussing while pulling screws out of my front tire and scrambling to find a repair shop to fix a flat. Two lessons learned:  be careful parking in abandoned parking lots, and Warren, Ohio has almost as many out-of-business auto/tire repair shops as it does abandoned buildings.