DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s a first for the old Packard Plant: men in black tie and women dressed to the nines.

The 2015 Detroit Historical Society Ball will be held the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5, at the long-abandoned property, along East Grand Blvd.  in Detroit.

At the northeast corner of the plant, Building 22 has been restored.

“You know, in this town there’s galas every weekend, but our are always unique in that we do a unique historic location,” said Detroit Historical Society Executive Director Bob Bury.

(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

(credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

“And people are really excited about this location because it’s not been open for a long time and this is the first black tie of this size — because this will be about 450 people — that’ll have a great time with great food, entertainment, auction, in addition to being in one of the most historic places in America.”

Built in 1939, the Packard Motor Car Company’s Building 22 is a 260,000 square foot warehouse designed by H. E. Beyster Corp. It was used for construction of the one-of-a-kind Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine. Exclusively made in Detroit, the engine was used for P-51 Mustang fighter planes during World War II and was one of the most reliable and powerful engines ever made.

The dilapidated plant has not been used for car production since the 1950s. As the years passed, the property increasingly became the target of arsonists, thieves, metal scrappers, urban explorers and graffiti artists.

Fernando Palazuelo, a developer from Peru, bid $405,000 for the 40-acre property in a tax foreclosure auction in 2013. He’s said he plans to use the site for residential, retail, offices, light industry, recreation and art.

The Packard Plant's Building 22 has been restored. (credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)

The Packard Plant’s Building 22 has been restored. (credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ)


Bury said there were still tickets available for the gala as of Wednesday morning.

“We’ll have some beautiful Packards on display,” Bury said. “But we’ve transformed a space — and, believe me, we’re working on it as we speak — to make it really classy for a black tie event.”

Benefactor level tickets are $750/person, and Patron level tickets are $450/person. Each of these levels features 6 p.m. entry, a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception and a seated dinner with both live and silent auctions. Afterglow tickets are $75 (or two tickets for $100) and feature an Afterglow Party with 9 p.m. entry, late night snacks and dancing.

Proceeds support the Society’s exhibitions and educational programs at the Detroit Historical Museum. For tickets, call 313-833-4143 or get more information at this link.


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