Thursday, June 18, 2009

Durant at Dusk

The Durant Hotel renovation in full swing.


  1. I am so happy this is finally a reality. I've been waiting for this for 20 odd years. I hope the inside is as nice as I'm dreaming.

  2. Perhaps even after the last General Motors factory finally closes it door, this building will survive in Flint, the birthplace of William C. Durant's baby. A small tribute to the man who created the largest automobile company in the world. Thanks for the memories Billy.

  3. My favorite Durant Hotel story:

    (the way I heard it, anyway)

    GM Public Relations paid Dinah Shore to be a Beautiful Star (easy for her) at some corporate celebration or other. A State Police officer was delegated to be her driver in the parade. After a day filled with corporate and public events including a parade through downtown Flint, he drove her back to the Durant, where (naturally) GM had put here up. He expected to "hand her off" to her assistants and/or GM PR personnel...but there was no one there in that role. He asked where everyone was, and it turned out that she, actually being a real person who just happened to be beautiful, multitalented and famous, had come to Flint by herself. And, somehow everyone at GM PR had assumed that they weren't worthy of minding her and someone higher-ranked would do so, so she was entirely on her own. And, in the festivity-planning, she had gotten no lunch and no dinner, and was there some place where she could get a bite to eat?

    So, the State Cop called his girlfriend and a couple of friends to join them, and they went out to some Italian place where he knew the proprietor and they could eat without her being the center of attention, and fun was had by all concerned.

  4. I checked your blog a few times last year strictly for your murder map. I live in flint but don't always stay right on top of that stuff so would start with your blog to get caught up. Sad to see it's not available anymore but understand why. Anyway, I was just goin to check your map again thats not updated and starting reading some of you more recent posts. It's great that your such a Flint fan, if only more people loved her as you do.

  5. ...the State Cop called his girlfriend and a couple of friends to join them, and they went out to some Italian place where he knew the proprietor and they could eat without her being the center of attention, and fun was had by all concerned.

    If the story is true, I'm guessing that the "Italian place" was Luigi's. A lot of stars have eaten there over the years (many of them taken there by my Dad when he produced the AC Fall and Spring Concerts at the IMA in the sixties).

    BTW, Gordon, I linked your Slate piece at my blog (and your pictures of the Central High stuff -- wish I could have been there).

  6. I was at the Dinah Shore parade. If you were there too, you would have seen one P.O'd 9-year old kid. Serves me right for only half-listening to my parents, but I thought they were taking me downtown to see a "Dinosaur" in the GM parade. When it turned out to be some blonde lady I had never heard of, I was mad as hell.

  7. I heard the Dinah Shore after-hours story years after it occurred. I probably saw that parade, too, but little-kid memories being what they are, the one I specifically remember was the Zorro one.

    My Dad had a story at the corner of First and Beech, and he had a six-foot walk-up stair-ladder on casters for the stockroom. So, rather than get there hours before in order to be in the front of the crown so that little-kid-me could see over the grownups, we rolled that ladder down the sidewalk two blocks to Saginaw, and I stood way up on top and got to see Zorro/Guy Williams ride by in the back of yet another GM convertible.

    Dunno if they put Guy Williams up at the Durant. Probably.

  8. JWilly, I vaguely remember that Zorro/Williams had Sergeant Garcia with him. My mind wants to put them both on a flat bed float due to the thought that the 350# plus, actor who played Garcia wouldn't have easily balanced on the top of the backseat of an open Chevy convertable. To add to the GM parade celebrities list, we can mention Pat Boone and Anita Bryant. I think both were given film-time by Michael Moore in "Roger & Me". Probably both stayed at the Durant too.

  9. I know a fellow who broke into the Durant, well well after it was closed, just for the hell of it. Unluckily for him, the cops were in the building looking for a suspect in another crime, and his accomplice decided to Make a Big Noise. Woot, 30 days in County Lockup for both of them.

    Same guy tore the steel lettering off of the Walker Elementary School building after the city shut it down.

    Same rationale... youthful boredom in a derelict town. Place was already on well greased skids towards Hell 20 years ago when this all happened.


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