Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wanted: Chevy in the Hole Expert


Michael Hopkins, a master's student in the College of Architecture at UM, sent along these aerial shots of Flint. (Click on images to enlarge.)

He's working on a project and he needs an expert on Chevy in the Hole to help him out:
"I'm working on a project situated in the former Chevy in the Hole site. My approach is more about a dynamic model responding to ever-changing economic, environmental, and social needs as well as addressing the emotional connection that may have been lost due to the closing and removal of the factory and buildings.

"I'm interested in any information about Chevy in the Hole (i.e. what went on in individual buildings, what is happening in the immediate area around Chevy in the hole as well as the region itself, etc). Also, I'm very interested in finding any images of the buildings that were once on the site."
I've passed along the info I have, which wasn't much, so I'm hoping readers can assist Michael with his project. If you have any familiarity with the factory buildings — especially the ability to I.D. the various buildings — email him at mthop (at) umich (dot) edu.




  1. GY- I'll email Dad, He worked there for a bit, and He's still in Buicktown. Might get lucky...

  2. Gordon, this is a wonderful blog. As a Flint native living in Chicago, I am so thankful for this link.

    Thank you.

  3. In case Michael is just learning about the history behind this location, he can go to http://books.google.com/books?id=0TkupxD2njcC&pg=PA188&lpg=PA186&ots=a4xFUOAx60&dq=battle+of+the+running+bulls#PPR1,M1 to get a good feel for what the Hole and the UAW mean to each other. Anyone who grew up in this neighborhood can tell you it dominated the landscape. There were several plants located on Chevrolet Ave in the dip, with Genrel Motors Institute sitting at the top of the hill. It was just "there" and always would be from our perspective. Looking back, why are we so surprised and hurt by change. Around 1800 a few people made their living hunting and trapping on that spot. Then the loggers had a heyday with lots of millionaires created, all on that land. After the loggers were out of work because of NO TREES, cotton mills were big business on that land. When they went broke, the infant automotive industry took over and created more millionaires, all on or near that land. It would be great to see what is happening in another 100 years.

  4. Gordo -- the two lower aerials need to be rotated 180 degrees. Makes comparison over time easier without mental gymnastics that I'm too old to muster these days.

    (Then again, might be that I did too many drugs in my youth. Or perhaps not enough.)

  5. Ahh, good point Cooley. I just flipped them. Thanks.

  6. I sent the following link to Michael:


    Others might be interested as well.

    The Scharchburg Archives has a wealth of information about Flint, Genesee County, and the automotive industry.

  7. There was also an Anishenabeg Village on that site, and articles in the Flint Urinal covered the exhumation of graves of some of the 'Nish, dating, if I remember correctly, from the late 1700's to 1800's. I was taken on a tour of the Hole when I was very young, and had recurring nightmares about the place. I hated having to go there while I worked delivering or picking up car parts later on in life.

  8. I was so excited to see this post; I love aerial photos and have been looking for historic ones for years. The fact that my apartment and new house are both in these makes it even better. Wayne State University has a great photo collection online:


    I typed in 'Flint' in the search and got all of these pictures, though many of the Chevy in the Hole pictures are mislabeled as Fisher Body pictures. Either way, there are a lot of great shots, many of which I've used as wallpaper.

  9. J.I. Thanks for the link. The aerial's at WSU are a little more satisfying because they are closer. Great shots.

  10. It's mentioned in this thread that the two latter images were flipped at one point. I'm guessing that at that time, the links to the underlying full sized images were broken. Any chance they can be restored?

  11. I worked there several summers. I did not find it that depressing. Just old, but historic. There were fascinating ways of getting from some plants to others without going outside. Fascinating upwardly mobile people worked there with upwardly mobile children. You wouldn't believe some of the people who worked there, their family connections and successful children. Not all, but a surprising number.

  12. bustdup and JWilly, since I've figured out that I have known you both at different times in my life, I can better put your comments in context and perspective.

    I think that we can safely assume that a previous civilization occupied many areas that we now occupy, so that is not unusual, bustdup. Many other places, we just don't know what may have been there before. I don't think the auto factories failed because of retribution of previous occupants of the land.

  13. People used to say things like "everyone had an uncle or grandfather that worked in Plant 4". In later years, that was the plant with the assembly line for engines. Recently, Google cofounder Lawrence Page revealed that his grandfather worked at Chevy in Flint, and I would assume that it was Chevy In The Hole. Also Lawrence's father Carl Page graduated from Mandeville High School in 1956 before his time at U of M and MSU. Mandeville High School (and I think it's the extensively renovated building) is where Baker College has its main campus now.

    In another thread there is a discussion of this Mandeville/Carman area near the Bronx subdivision and all the nearby neighborhoods and farms, so apparently the Pages lived somewhere near there. I can't find an old phone book as to exactly where.

  14. I have a blueprint of the factory, originally called Mason Motors. It was drawn up in Chicago.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.