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William Kessler and Associates Records

Identifier: LR001214

Scope and Content

The papers of William Kessler and Associates reflect the firms work in studying the architectural significance of the Poletown area in general, and many specific buildings as well. Also included in the papers is much information regarding important historical and archeological elements within the project area.

Series 1: General Motors Poletown Project, 1980-1981 Correspondence, clippings, studies, and other materials relating to investigation of archeological, architectural, and historical resources located within the project area, and documentation of these sites


  • 1980 - 1981



Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


The General Motors Poletown project resulted from a joint offer by the cities of Detroit and Hamtramck of a site upon which to build a new GM assembly plant. The area proposed for the plant was bounded by I-94 on the south, Mt. Elliot Ave. on the east, St. Aubin Ave. on the west, and the former Dodge Main site on the north. This offer, made in June of 1980, was intended to insure that the new plant with its estimated 3,800 jobs would be built within the city which was experiencing a severe economic recession.

Acceptance by GM meant the removal of 150 business, 1,500 people, the destruct-ion of the Dodge Main plant and numerous other buildings, and the raising of $150 million by the city to prepare the site for construction. In order to proceed with the project to meet GM's time requirements, the city entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer, Martha Bigelow, on October 29, 1980. The architectural firm of William Kessler and Associates was hired by the city to assist in carrying out it's obligations under the terms of the MOA. Generally, this entailed determining whether any areas of significant archeological, architectural, or historical value existed within the project area; and if so, to make a permanent record of their existence. Specifically, Michael Washo, Kessler's Director of Historic Preservation Services was to determine whether the area's architecture as a whole or any specific structures within the project area merited inclusion on the national register. And if that was the case, to make a permanent record of their architectural significance according to national registry standards, including photographs.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 MB)

Language of Materials



Subjects include: Poletown section of Detroit


Arranged in 1 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-3). Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material.


The papers of William Kessler and Associates were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in January of 1985 by Mr. William Kessler and were opened for research in June of 1986.


A large quantity of photographs relating to the William Kessler and Associates architectural investigation of the Poletown area, and specific structures within the project area, have been placed in the Archives Audio-Visual Collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in June, 1986.
William Kessler and Associates Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA