Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Dodge, Horace

Horace Elgin Dodge was an automotive pioneer who founded the Dodge automobile brand along with his brother John Dodge. Dodge was born in Niles, Michigan in 1868. He and his older brother grew up helping their father in his machine shop, building marine engines. The family moved to Detroit in 1886 and in 1901 the brothers opened their own machine shop, Dodge Brothers, with Horace focused on mechanical issues and John on the business aspects. They received their first big break when the Olds plant burned in Detroit that year and Ransom E. Olds hired the brothers to supply 3,000 auto transmissions.

In 1903 Dodge Brothers began supplying parts exclusively to the Ford Motor Company and soon became major stockholders. Made wealthy by their work and investments with Ford, in 1914 the brothers decided to leave and establish their own car company. They tripled the floor space at their existing plant in Hamtramck, designed by Albert Kahn, to accommodate auto assembly. The sales of their new Dodge cars almost eclipsed that of Ford.

Dodge married Anna Thomson in 1896. They had a daughter, Delphine Ione, in 1899 and a son, Horace Jr., in 1900. Horace commissioned Kahn to build his home in Grosse Pointe Farms on the Detroit River, where his “hobby” of building yachts could be realized. These yachts included the Hornet, once the fastest boat on the Great Lakes, and the 258-foot-long Delphine, one of the largest private yachts on the Great Lakes. Horace and Anna were both music lovers and contributed significantly to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, including the building of Orchestra Hall.

In 1920 both brothers caught influenza on a visit to the New York Auto Show. John did not recover and died in January, and Horace died the following December in Palm Beach, Florida. He is buried in the Dodge mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit. In 1978 the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain, designed by Isamu Noguchi, was erected in Detroit’s Hart Plaza, thanks to a $2 million donation by his widow Anna. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1981.



Dodge Brothers Co. Executives photo

Reproduction of the DELPHINE

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