South Bend, Ind. Fifty years ago, the last Studebaker rolled off the assembly line in South Bend.
It’s a dark day that many will never forget, as the city’s largest employer left thousands without jobs.
Decades later, walking through Building 84 downtown still stirs up strong memories.
“I think my last day was in October of ’63, which would have been about a month and a half before they closed down completely,” said Dave Guzicki, who worked there for about two years.
The period marked a tough time in the city’s history – one some wondered if South Bend could survive.
While the community is still morning the loss of Studebaker, the 50th anniversary of it closing wasn’t a somber occasion. The city marked the milestone with a day full of events celebrating Studebaker’s legacy and embracing the future of Building 84.
“South Bend was given up for dead by some,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “But, we knew better. We knew that South Bend could rise and find its future.”
Kevin Smith says he has big plans for Building 84. He hopes renovating the gigantic building will make it the hub of innovation, once again.
“You’ll have residential right here on 6 and 7, as well as telecommunications and data centers,” Smith said. “So, all the core ingredients to allow our community to invent tomorrow.”
The investment will mean new jobs for the community down the line.
To symbolize the new beginning, 20 spotlights illuminated South Bend’s sky Friday night to cap off the day of celebrations. They were placed strategically at important spots of innovation in the city.
“The reason to bring the lights is to turn the lights of innovation back on our community and highlight everything that's been happening,” Smith said.