Photo from rougepark.org
History of Charles E. Sorensen
Charles E. Sorensen, also known as Cast Iron Charlie, was a important employee of the Ford Motor Company during its first four decades. Over his career with the Ford Motor Company, Sorensen was instrumental in several key milestones, including:
One of six Ford employees hand picked by Henry Ford to develop the Model T
Coordinated the building of the Ford Highland Park Assembly Plant
Developed along with several other Ford managers, the moving automotive assembly line
Provided his casting techniques knowledge during the development of the Ford Flathead V8
Led the design of the Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant
Location of the Sorensen Home
What is left of the Sorensen Home is located at the south end of Rouge Park, just north of Warren road and about 100 yards west of the intersection of Sawyer Avenue and Spinoza Drive. The best way to enter the area is about 150 yards north of the cannon off of Spinoza Drive. See the 'X' in the map below. The 'Dot' is the location of the cannon.
map courtesy of Google Maps
History of the Sorensen Home
The Sorensen Home was built starting in 1914 and finished in 1917. An addition and landscaping was added in 1918. The land for this estate was bought by Henry Ford as he wanted Charlie as a neighbor. Henry & Clara Ford's Fairlane estate was being built about the same time also on this branch of the Rouge River, but downstream by about 2.5 miles. It is interesting to note that Henry Ford owned several thousand acres of land at the time (mostly what is now the central area of Deaborn, Allen Park, Lincoln Park and Melvindale). However his land ownership ended just south of Warren Road.
In 1923, the Sorensens sold this property along with several adjacent land owners to the City of Detroit. This area was then turned into the Rouge Park starting in 1925. Rouge Park is 1.7 times the size of NYC's Central Park. The Sorensen house was then used as a lodge where refreshments could be purchased. During WWII, it was converted into a serviceman's center for the 728th Military Police Encampment. I imagine the cannon was added in front of the home during this era. The cannon is a Spanish cannon from the 18th century. It was taken from Spain after the Spanish American War. After the war, it was used as the Rouge Park Recreation Center. In 1984, the house was torn down after a destructive fire.
Here are some photos that I recently took of what is still left of this estate.
Stone Wall - Rear Area of the Home
Stairways Leading to the Home from the River Bed
The Promenade Looking South
The Rouge River Looking North
Friends of Rouge Park rougepark.org
MotorCities National Heritage Area motorcities.org
The Dearborn Historical Museum thedhm.com
The Henry Ford Collections and Research thehenryford.org