Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This Month in Rochester History

The Auburn Hills Nike base in 1964 before it was developed as Oakland Community College.
Fifty years ago this month the citizens of Rochester were learning about a new college that was coming to the area.  The announcement was made in October 1964 that a community college campus would be built on land in Pontiac Township (now known as Auburn Hills), immediately west of Avon Township.

The 247-acre parcel at Hamlin & Squirrel roads that was selected for the new campus was a deactivated Nike missile installation.  In the days of heightened tension after the Korean War, a missile defense system was deployed to protect the nation's major city and industrial centers, Detroit among them.  A ring of Nike bases surrounded Detroit and its industry, including the one at Hamlin & Squirrel and another on Woodall Road in Shelby Township.  Armed with Ajax and Hercules surface-to-air missiles that were stored underground, the bases stood ready to repel a threat that never materialized. 

In the case of the Pontiac Township site, the installation was deactivated in 1963. The buildings formerly used for the base were remodeled for use of the college, which opened to students in September 1965.

Click here for details and aerial photographs of the Auburn Hills Nike site.

1 comment:

  1. I remember both Nike sites. As an 8 year-old kid in 1962 they were both scary and mysterious. Fortunately they were never used.