Ponce lofts were once Ford plant

Q: Can you please tell me about an interesting building? It’s next to Ponce City Market and I don’t know whether it was part of the old Sears store or not.

—Sperry Wilder, Roswell

A: This building has proven to be Ford tough.

And that’s fitting, since it’s the reason why it was built.

The old Ford Motor Co. assembly plant has survived more than a century in a city that likes to tear down buildings and build new ones in their place.

The former factory on Ponce de Leon Avenue has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and transformed into the Ford Factory Lofts.

To help steer you in the right direction, the building, which was completed in 1915, is between Ponce City Market (the famous old Sears facility which later was turned into City Hall East) and the infamous “Murder Kroger.”

The BeltLine runs between the lofts and Ponce City Market.

The building is remarkable in that it was one of the first Ford plants built around the country in the early 20th century. About 30 were constructed as the company saw the need to assemble its cars in various cities instead of at one main facility.

Ford also ran its Southeastern operations from the four-story facility from 1915-1942, cranking out Model T’s, Model A’s and V-8s, according to documents from the National Register of Historic Places nomination form.

Ford sold the building to the War Department in 1942 – the automakers used their factories to turn out military equipment during World War II – and built its Hapeville plant in 1947.

The building, which now has loft apartments, retains its industrial look with its brick exterior and 13-foot windows.

“The Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant is historically significant in the areas of architecture, industry and transportation, and commerce. In terms of architecture, the building is significant as an outstanding example of early-twentieth-century commercial/industrial architecture in Atlanta and the Southeast,” the nomination form states. “In terms of industry and transportation, the building is significant as one of the earliest automobile assembly plants in the Southeast and for representing the beginnings of the automobile industry in Atlanta.”

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