by Bill Watson and the Allpar Staff
The 6000 Wyoming Avenue plant was built in 1917 (during World War I) for arms manufacturing. In 1919, it became the property of Saxon Motor Co., a firm started by Hugh Chalmers, but with the end-of-war economic downturn, Chalmers closed down Saxon and left the board of Chalmers Motors, moving on to other, non-automotive, endeavours.
The plant was then purchased by General Motors and was used by Buick until 1926, when Cadillac seems to have used the plant to build LaSalles. From 1929 to 1934 the workings of the plant are unknown; but Chrysler bought it in 1934.
In 1936 the plant was enlarged and set up for assembly of DeSoto cars. DeSoto engines and bodies were trucked over from East Jefferson. Chrysler built the McGraw stamping plant just to the east; it made oil pans, valve covers, and other small stampings.
In 1947, Chrysler purchased Graham-Paige's plant on West Warren Avenue. In 1950, DeSoto body production began; a year later, assembly of the new DeSoto Firedome V8 started. When DeSoto production moved to EastJefferson in the summer of 1958, the West Warren plant was renovated for assembly of Imperials for the 1959 model year.
The Wyoming plant began preparing cars for export in 1960, the same year the McGraw plant began making auto glass. Switching McGraw to auto glass might have been precipitated by a four month strike at PPG, which, in early 1959, “severely curtailed” car and truck production.
In 1992, the Wyoming plant was demolished; a few years later, the McGraw plant was expanded. But in 1998 Daimler acquired Chrysler, and within two years the writing was on the wall. In 2003, McGraw Glass closed. 30-year employees were given $50,000 in cash and a voucher for $20,000 towards a Chrysler vehicle. Those with 23-29 years were given $35,000 and retirement benefits. Those 55 and older, with 10 years’ tenure, got full retirement benefits.
I am attaching a photo I took of the Wyoming plant in 1980 on a trip to Ontario, taken from the south, showing the McGraw plant just along the right edge of the photo with its overhead to the Wyoming plant. Note the plant is right up to the property line along the street.
I am also attaching a recent aerial shot of the property with the enlarged McGraw plant. Wyoming Avenue runs along the west (left) side of the plant with Ford Road and McGraw along the bottom (south). The bottom half of the dark area of the plant is the original plant, with the white section added in the late 1990s. Note the large parkingarea along the Wyoming Avenue side.
Also see... Factory photos: 2009 Dodge Ram - 1995 Neon - Chrysler LeBaron Convertible - Newark Assembly Plant
Working at the plant: Dave Tyjeski (2009), Bill Wetherholt (2009), Matt Wetherholt (2009), Views (2002), Teamwork (1998)
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