Henry Ford purchased a summer cottage in Clarkston as the city became a vacation spot for many Michigan citizens. As Ford settled in the town during the summer months, he maintained strong feelings about the positive aspects of rural living. His feelings towards rural towns were so strong that he wanted to bring local resident the economic advantages of industrial jobs without having to move to the city. Ford took an interest in water power and villages in the metro-Detroit area.
He had become interested in Clarkston’s existence as a mill village and began the “Village Industries Program” to establish small manufacturing plants in metro-Detroit towns to use water power in the 1930s. Ford built one plant on a vacant Clarkston mills property and also purchased the old school building on North Main Street in order to establish an apprentice school. The Village Industries Program was designed to stabilize the income flow of farm workers during the winter. The buildings that Ford built and purchased made parts for Ford vehicles without having the farmers move to the city during the winter. Ford’s belief in using clean sources of energy, hydroelectric power was used in the factories in the towns.