In the 1880's, Detroit was the center of the industrial revolution, attracting businesses of all kinds from around the world. One of these was the Clayton & Lambert Manufacturing Company, formed in 1891 by two businessmen who made firepots, torches, and other heat tools. The company expanded into the automobile market in the 1910's, stamping fenders, hoods, gas tanks and radiators for the dozens of car companies that settled in Detroit. Automotive stamping became such a large part of the business that by 1919 it was spun off into a sperate division. A new factory on Conner was built for the Knodell Division, which specialized in stamping and metal work.
In 1925, Clayton & Lambert sold the Knodell Division and the Conner stamping plant to the Hudson Motor Car Company. Hudson began expanding the plant, enlisting architect Albert Khan to design multistory additions to the existing buildings. The Conner plant would supply new Hudson factories located to the south, part of a corridor of auto production that would revolutionize the industry.
By 1954, Hudson had merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors. Production of Hudson cars and parts was moved to other factories in Wisconsin, leading to the closure of the Conner plant. In 1956, Cadillac bought the former Hudson plant to make body panels for its cars. A large building to the south was added between 1961 and 1967. Between 1967 and 1973 the space between buildings was fitted with a roof and converted into a warehouse.
In later years, the plant was known as the BOC Conner Stamping plant, making parts for Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac cars. By the 1980's though the multistory plant was becoming dated, and was less efficient than more modern single-story factories. In 1986 General Motors announced that it would be closing the Conner plant in one year, along with 10 other factories. 700 employees at the Conner plant were laid off.