James Potter Furniture Co. - 1886-1902 - Lansing, Michigan


James Potter Furniture Co.- 700 South St. Lansing, MI

Established by James Potter in 1894, the company made special bodies for commercial vehicles as well as auto bodies and equipment. By 1920, it was the largest firm of its kind in the country. (originally established in 1886 but focus changed to auto bodies in 1894).

Hugh Lyons was an initial 1904 investor of the REO Motor Company. Hugh Lyons & Company manufactured truck cabs and bodies for REO and other truck manufactures until REO began production of their own commercial bodies in 1930. Hugh Lyons was mayor of Lansing from 1904 - 1907 and is buried in Lansing's Mount Hope Cemetery. The Hugh Lyons company moved to this location in 1902, the former site of a furniture factory established in 1889 by James Potter. Once comprised of roughly ten major structures including a workshop, dry kiln, storage, punch press, mill and paint shop, and machine shops only one building still remains. Built in 1922, with an addition in 1924, it is a steel frame and reinforced concrete factory building. It has eight-inch curtain walls of brick and steel sash. In the 1930s it was used for woodworking, finishing, and cabinetry. Hugh Lyons & Company was established in 1888 and incorporated in 1894. When Lyons opened his Lansing plant, it was only the second of its kind in the state (the other was in Detroit). In addition to showcases, the company manufactured store fixtures and retail display items, as well as their patented hat conformator, which claimed to shape a hat precisely to the buyer's head, thereby making a new hat feel as comfortable as an old one. While the company continued to produce display fixtures, a portion of the plant was renovated in the early 1920s for production of commercial truck bodies. Hugh Lyons & Company made Reo truck bodies until 1930, when that company began producing their bodies in-house. Hugh Lyons manufactured other specialty bodies for trucks and commercial vehicles as well, and marketed the Way Automatic Dump Body in the mid-1920s. As a prominent businessman and public figure, Hugh Lyons served two terms as mayor of Lansing. Only a small portion of the manufacturing complex remains today.



For more information please read:

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland


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