REO Motor Car Company / REO Clubhouse
REO Motor Car Company
In 1904 Ransom Eli Olds
founded the REO Motor Car Company and built a factory on this site. In 1897 Olds had organized the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, the forerunner of Oldsmobile. REO soon became a leading automobile producer. The REO Motor Truck Company was formed in 1910 and production of the popular Speed Wagon soon began. REO offered the first practical automatic transmission in 1933; however, the Depression-era economy brought an end to car production in 1936. The company focused instead on commercial and military vehicles under the name REO Motors. Diamond T Trucks merged with REO in 1967, resulting in Diamond REO Trucks, Inc. The maker of "The World's Toughest Truck" closed in 1975. Despite its designation as a National Historic Landmark, the plant was razed in 1979 to make way for new industry
Built in 1917, the REO Clubhouse was the cultural hub of Lansing, hosting free movies, wedding receptions, basketball games, dress balls and patriotic gatherings during the First and Second World Wars. It was also home of Lansing's first radio station, WREO, which went on the air in 1921. Known as the "Temple of Leisure," the building comprised a two thousand-person capacity dining room, an auditorium, a library, four bowling alleys, a fireproof movie booth, and smoking lounging and billiard rooms. Use of the clubhouse by employees was one of the policies implemented by REO to cultivate the loyalty of its workers. Years after the Diamond REO plant closed in 1975, former employees recalled the sense of family fostered by the company. The clubhouse was razed in 1979.