Monday, May 4, 2009

Flint Central Meets an Uncertain Future

Some very mixed messages are emerging about the fate of Central High School. It seems clear it will close in June. But now school officials are hinting that they'd like to reopen the school at some point...provided that money magically materializes to renovate it. Or perhaps they'd tear it down and rebuild a new school...once they find the money. That's a bit like me saying I plan to turn Flint into hugely successful artists colony, once I get funding to make my dream a reality. Meanwhile, a group seems to be organizing to get Central on the National Register of Historic Places. No mention whatsoever about selling the building to Powers.

What are the odds that Central will sit vacant for years to come, a lost opportunity in the heart of the cultural district?


  1. One cannot doubt the feelings Central graduates have for their school. I share some of it myself. However, what I have pointed out before and will say again is that the desire to save Central remains an attempt to protect the childhood memories of those graduates more than it has to do with caring for future generations. Granted, closing Central is a mistake in the sense that a link between families, the cultural center, and a budding downtown revitalization will be broken.

    Still, the building is old. If renovation exceeds the cost of a new structure, the district should advocate the latter. I remain convinced that any new structure can be architecturally appealing, green, and could easily incorporate the existing tower as a tribute. An abandoned, rotting Central High School, frozen in court battles over historic places is the worst of all possible outcomes. Now is the time for those who want to save Central to vote with their wallets or forever hold their peace.

    Rob - FCHS c/o 2001

  2. I read the article and the comments after and was amazed at the lack of understanding of history in most of the people who commented. At some point Flint, Mi was known for it's high quality craftsmanship. The Buick had one of the best engineered engines in the industry. Take a drive up Detroit Street. Look at all the fantastic, now somewhat dilapidated and boarded up houses from the turn of the 20th century. Flintites took pride in their work and it showed in everything they did.

    Flint no longer has an auto industry. And the quality of construction and design of new buildings is uninspired at best. Already falling apart at worst. All that is left is the symbols of an era when Flint cared about what it did. I think we need to take these reminders as inspiration.


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