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Ford Building

Picture 7 of 18

The Ford Building, designed in the Chicago School style of architecture by John Graham, was one of several similarly-designed Ford Branch Plants that were built throughout the United States in the early 1900's. Fargo was the 25th such branch. The policy of the Ford Motor Company was to distribute through branch houses and assembly plants, under which there were dealers and sub-dealers. This "branch house" system enabled the company to control prices and service throughout the country. This was important because of the volume of the company's business and because of the service required on the Ford cars. Decentralization of the manufacturing of cars and trucks also decreased shipping costs and ensured that "quick deliveries can be made to any part of the territory".

Construction of the plant was completed in 1915. The 100 x 200 foot building had show rooms, stock rooms, and a garage on the first floor; the second floor contained offices and a shop; and the third floor contained the assembly plant. The most visible feature was the 40,000 gallon elevated tank which provided water for sanitary facilities, lunch rooms, the boiler, and the sprinkler system.

Approximately 75 people were employed on opening day. Total employment grew to about 200 when the building was fully staffed. Business activities included the retail and wholesale distribution of automobiles and parts, The building also contained a complete service and repair department that provided service to automobile owners and educational opportunities for dealers and repair shop operators.

The building was conveniently located next to the Great Northern Railroad tracks and there was a spur going directly into the building. Assembled cars could be loaded onto railroad cars without going outside.

July 23, 1915 was designated "Ford Day" by the City of Fargo to celebrate the completion of the building. The 55-piece "Big Ford Band", with H. C. Phillips directing, visited Fargo that day and gave a concert in Island Park.

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