Ford’s Renovation of Michigan Central Station Unearths a Time Capsule

A literal message in a bottle

Michigan Central Station
Michigan Central Station in 2020.
Paul Krishnamurthy/Unsplash

It’s been over a hundred years since trains first ran through Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, which ceased active operations in 1988. The striking Beaux-Arts building has remained a distinctive mainstay in the city for the years since then, its future uncertain. In 2018, Ford announced that it was purchasing the building with the intention of turning it into the headquarters of its electric and autonomous vehicle divisions. Since then, workers have been transforming the building from transit hub to office space.

And it turns out that part of the process of establishing the building’s future involves revisiting a bit of its past. At Autoblog, Byron Hurd has news of an unexpected discovery made during the renovations.

Two contractors found a bottle of Stroh’s behind a plaster wall; inside was a letter dated 1913 and signed by Dan Hogan and Leo (possibly Lee) Smith. Figuring out what’s actually on the letter might be more challenging, though. Hurd writes that “a century has passed since somebody wrote this particular note, and in its advanced state of deterioration, restoring it to complete legibility may not be possible.”

This letter is one of several objects that contractors have discovered as they work on the building, but so far it’s the only one that appears to have an intended audience of readers in the future. As for what its authors had to say, well, that part might be lost to history.

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