Around the Bend
Studebaker Stamping Plant
Located in South Bend, IN
Photo © 2005 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Studebaker Stamping Plant History
In the 1920s, the Studebaker company decided to eliminate the manufacturing of horse drawn buggies in favor of producing the rapidly selling automobiles. Originally the bulk of the automobile parts was manufactured in Detroit, but the company decided to build a new foundry in South Bend Indiana, replacing the old buggy factory.
In 1923, the six story closed body building opened, which was adjoined to the stamping and final assembly buildings. The design of the plant was considered an inefficient one, as single story assembly buildings were better suited to do the job, and as the automobile designs became increasingly complex, the situation only became worse. Parts needed to be criss-crossed across the plant, and although building to building conveyors were constructed in 1952, the company was unable to keep their edge on the market while using these obsolete buildings.
Combined with an inefficient work flow, low sales, and poor money management, Studebaker closed the plant in December of 1963, although the space has been rented out to many tenants, such as Chrysler and International-Harvester into the 1970s, and South Bend Stamping has been using the plant until 1999. A few buildings are still being used by other companies as well.
Update: The abandoned buildings have been demolished in 2006.