Fleet­wood commemorates in­dus­trial his­tory

State his­tor­i­cal marker hon­ors for­ma­tion of Fleet­wood Metal Body Com­pany

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Laura E. Quain For Digital First Me­dia

Fleet­wood’s sense of his­tory was in full ef­fect on Nov. 4 as friends and neigh­bors gath­ered at the cor­ner of Rich­mond and Lo­cust streets for ded­i­ca­tion of an of­fi­cial Penn­syl­va­nia State His­tor­i­cal marker hon­or­ing the for­ma­tion of the Fleet­wood Metal Body Com­pany.

Fleet­wood Metal Body, es­tab­lished in 1902 by Harry Urich, fab­ri­cated and de­signed cus­tom auto bod­ies for do­mes­tic and for­eign au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers, such as Cadil­lac, SGV and Mercedes Benz.

It was pur­chased by a Gen­eral Mo­tors sub­sidiary in 1925 and fabri­ca­tion op­er­a­tions were later moved to Detroit in 1930; the Fleet­wood name was used by Cadil­lac for an­other 60 years.

Phil Zim­mer­man spoke on be­half of the Penn­syl­va­nia His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum Com­mis­sion, the state’s of­fi­cial his­tory agency.

“I want to con­grat­u­late all of you for ded­i­cat­ing today, the new­est of nearly 2,500 of these his­tor­i­cal mark­ers that have been erected through­out the state. As you likely know, these mark­ers are chron­i­cled peo­ple, places and events that make Penn­syl­va­nia a spe­cial place.”

Ac­cord­ing to Zim­mer­man, the his­tor­i­cal marker pro­gram be­gan in 1946 and is now one of the most pop­u­lar pro­grams of the His­tor­i­cal and Mu­seum Com­mis­sion.

“His­tor­i­cal mark­ers speak to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and us about the many di­verse events and top­ics that when wo­ven to­gether be­come our rich, di­verse her­itage,” said Zim­mer­man. “It is my hope that when we un­veil this marker it will not be the end of the story, but will in­stead in­spire and en­cour­age fur­ther study and dis­cus­sion about the roll of the Fleet­wood Metal Body.”

The ded­i­ca­tion is the re­sult of 25 years of per­se­ver­ance by the peo­ple of Fleet­wood to have their town rec­og­nized for its rich in­dus­trial his­tory.

“It’s a plea­sure to rec­og­nize the ded­i­ca­tion and hard work that it took, more than two decades, by mem­bers of the Fleet­wood Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety,” said Tammy Gore, Fleet­wood

Mayor. “The un­veil­ing of this his­tor­i­cal marker by the Penn­syl­va­nia Mu­seum Com­mis­sion for­merly ac­knowl­edges how in­stru­men­tal Fleet­wood Metal Body Com­pany was to the ad­vance­ment of the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. Now we get to share the his­tory of this site with all who read this marker today and for gen­er­a­tions to fol­low so that this his­tory will never be lost.”

Sen­a­tor Judy Sch­wank was in at­ten­dance and spoke of the Fleet­wood Metal Body Com­pany’s im­por­tance in the com­mu­nity.

“This is such an im­por­tant part of our com­mu­nity,” said Sch­wank. “It’s some­thing that all of us know about, we re­mem­ber so many sto­ries about the his­tory and the peo­ple that worked there. It re­ally is a part of the fab­ric of our com­mu­nity. And now with this plaque right here on Rich­mond Street, other peo­ple will know about our his­tory as well.”

Ge­orge Mieser, Berks County His­to­rian, spoke on the Fleet­wood crafts­men. He be­lieves that some of the finest crafts­men lived, worked and per­fected their craft in Fleet­wood.

“I’ve come to one con­clu­sion, there’s a lot to be said for the peo­ple from this com­mu­nity who were born here, worked here and died here, who made some of the finest au­to­mo­bile bod­ies on the face of the earth,” said Mieser.“Kings, pres­i­dents, mon­archs of all sorts, drove cars with Fleet­wood bod­ies; they were well known through­out the world.”

The Fleet­wood com­mu­nity holds a strong aware­ness of its past, but re­mains hope­ful for what the fu­ture will hold.

“It [his­tory] is also a blue­print of what the fu­ture could be, we look at our com­mu­nity,” said Sch­wank. “This is part of our his­tory but it will also give us in­spi­ra­tion for the fu­ture, too, and for what our com­mu­nity will be, what the new in­dus­try will be and I’m re­ally proud to be here today to be a part of both the past and the fu­ture.”

LAURA E. QUAIN - DIGITAL FIRST ME­DIA

Fleet­wood Mayor Tammy Gore ad­dresses Fleet­wood com­mu­nity on Nov. 4 dur­ing Fleet­wood’s ded­i­ca­tion of an of­fi­cial Penn­syl­va­nia State His­tor­i­cal marker hon­or­ing the for­ma­tion of the Fleet­wood Metal Body Com­pany at the cor­ner of Rich­mond and Lo­cust streets.

PHOTOS BY LAURA E. QUAIN - DIGITAL FIRST ME­DIA

A 1913 SGV, a prod­uct of Fleet­wood Metal Body, on dis­play at the ded­i­ca­tion Nov. 4. The car was pro­vided by the Boy­er­town Mu­seum of His­toric Ve­hi­cles.

Sen. Judy Sch­wank ad­dresses the Fleet­wood com­mu­nity on the sig­nif­i­cance of their in­dus­trial past on Nov. 4 dur­ing Fleet­wood’s ded­i­ca­tion of an of­fi­cial Penn­syl­va­nia State His­tor­i­cal marker hon­or­ing the for­ma­tion of the Fleet­wood Metal Body Com­pany at the cor­ner of Rich­mond and Lo­cust streets.

Orig­i­nal site of Fleet­wood Metal Body, es­tab­lished 1909.

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