Ford gains inspiration for Michigan Central Station revitalization from returned artifacts

Automaker seeks pieces from train station

DETROIT – As Ford works to revive Michigan Central Station, artifacts returned to the automaker provide a glimpse into what the historic depot once was.

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Those pieces are providing inspiration for the long-vacant station's future.

A clock stolen from Michigan Central Station was returned to Ford shortly after it was announced that the automaker purchased the building. (Photo: Ford)

Michigan Central Station closed in 1988. It has been empty, aside from homeless people who took refuge in the hulking structure, critters and thrill seekers looking to explore the iconic building, ever since. Plans for the depot have continually fallen through, until Ford announced it had purchased the building last summer.

Read More: A brief history of Michigan Central Station

Ford is planning on creating a campus that will consist of about 1.2 million square feet of property in Corktown. The mixed-use space will feature office space, retail space and residential housing.

Renderings of the train station indicate that historic aspects of the large structure will remain, even though the former depot will house autonomous vehicle development.

📷This rendering from Ford, compared to a photo taken inside Michigan Central Station in 2017, shows just how much of the old train depot's design may exist once it is redone. (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

"When we have elements like this, we'll know how the look and feel should be," said Ted Ryan, Ford archive manager.

Items from the old station include a large clock, decorative pieces from a stair post, a fire extinguisher, mail slots, train tickets and elevator call buttons, among other historical pieces.

Ford is seeking any pieces from the station that people may have. If you have something from Michigan Central Station, contact Ford at 313-845-3673 or

The video below shows a bit of the company’s vision for MCS and Corktown.

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.