Knudsen Room


The Knudsen Room at the International Institute is named in honor of William S. Knudsen (1879-1948). He is a true success story of immigration to the United States. Born of humble beginnings in Denmark, he immigrated to the United States, passing through Ellis Island in New York. He eventually made his way to Detroit and, in time, became the President of General Motors. As World War II broke out, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named Knudsen to oversee command of all U.S. war production and he was commissioned a three star general in the U.S. Army. Detroit became the "Arsenal of Democracy," and a major factor in the Allied victory in World War II, in major part through the efforts of William S. Knudsen. A large portrait of William S. Knudsen proudly hangs in the lobby of the International Institute. "The Knudsen Room contains a fireplace, reminiscent of the fireplace at the original Detroit International Institute, in the cottage at Adams at Witherell, in Downtown Detroit, that welcomed immigrants to the Detroit area starting in 1919. The International Institute is grateful to the Knudsen family for its support of the International Institute through the years. For more information on William S. Knudsen, click on the image at right to enlarge it.