Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation, Detroit Michigan
Also known as National Can Company, General Aluminum and Brass Casting Works, Helms Corporation.
Bohn Aluminum is a complex of industrial buildings with one office building. The Bohn Aluminum office building is somewhat architecturally distinctive. It presents Neo-classical elements from a functionalist plan. The building displays pilasters and gabled parapets which define the three sections on each of the two visible sides. Much brick ornamentation is evident. The building has painted brick walls and is rectangular in plan. Attached to the office building is the main industrial building which is of steel-framed reinforced concrete construction. Adjacent to this are two more steel-framed, reinforced concrete industrial buildings, one of which has a saw-toothed roof. All of the buildings are two stories high.
Bohn Aluminum is historically significant for its involvement in Detroit's labor movement. Bohn Aluminum and its subsidiary, Michigan Smelting, were organized at the height of the sitdown fever by a series of occupations and work stoppages that spanned a three week period. Twelve-hundred workers in four plants throughout the city participated.
While Black workers in general tended to take a cautious attitude toward the emerging industrial unions. Black workers in Bohn were intimately involved. Bohn had one of the highest concentrations of Black workers in the city and they were not as isolated within the plant as in other factories. Both of these conditions contributed to their higher levels of involvement. Bohn became the first UAW local to elect a Black president although this was met with considerable resistance by some elements of the local.