Thursday, July 25, 2013

G.M. Closes Deal on Factory 1 in Flint

G.M. has finalized the deal to purchase the birthplace of the auto company — Factory 1 on Water Street — in Flint's Carriage Town neighborhood. Jeremy Allen of mLive reports:
Initial plans for the factory on Water Street include repairing the roof and walls and making structural improvements throughout the 25,000-square-foot building. Work on the facility is expected to start in late 2013. Parts of the factory date back to 1880 when it was constructed as part of the Flint Cotton & Woolen Mills.

Future plans for the site are the subject of ongoing meetings within GM. No date has been set for publicly outlining how the Durant-Dort facility will be used.

Reuss said that he'd like to see the site used as a museum to potentially showcase some of General Motors' historic vehicles and classic pieces, but plans are still in the works.


  1. THANK YOU for the story and "new" photos!

  2. I worked in the Carriage Factory for a state agency from around 1990-1999. When it was 1st renovated and reopened there was a nice little restaurant downstairs, every St Pattie's day they served a great cornbeef and cabbage lunch. As I recall they were open only for lunch. There was also an antique mall in the building on the 1st floor with at least 30 separate vendors. Our office was upstairs, the whole renovation was nicely done. I think the public had a hard time finding the building and maybe some reluctance to shop and eat in Carriage Town. The restaurant failed and the antique mall relocated even our office eventually relocated to the Reuther Center. It was a nice spot for about 5 years.

  3. I walked right past that building on my way "downtown" for years. There was a small highway bridge to its immediate left that crossed the Flint River and it connected to arteries of streets, alleyways, and parking lots that abutted the buildings of Saginaw Street towards the rather seedy part of Flint downtown. Seedy means dirty; the porn shops were there, as well as the rows of Coney Islands.

    I played on that bridge, always. Most of the time just looking down, but occasionally dropping stones on the turtles that somehow survived in all that toxic waste who would come out of the water to sun themselves on the rocks below the bridge.

    The bridge was my connector to everything Flint could toss at a kid of 14; great hot dogs, dirty magazines, the arcade in Playland (another terrific story in itself), and then to another bridge across the Flint River that actually had stores on it. One shop was Cowles. His advertising sign was a single pair of huge eyeglasses that hung above the sidewalk on the pedestrian walkway. Cowles ground lenses and made the frames himself. Mr. Cowl was rather imposing, a giant of a man with his own spectacles who could never utter any sentence without a long winded "hummm" inserted between his words. He was spooky, but I know his eyeglasses were top notch because the attorney of my family used to wear what he crafted.

    Beside his store was Shipacassie, and if you ever ate a Kraft-wrapped carmel you would spit it out compared to the home- made prizes those two brothers put together. Their candies were great, but their caramels were greater. Forget cubes; they processed it into flat slabs. Each piece was about the size of a playing card and once you dealt it into your mouth you knew the candy pot was yours as you raked it all in.

    The Carriage Factory was simply an icon abandoned in my day and I passed it by on my way to Flint-town nirvana I am pleased to see its history recaptured. Flint suffers, that's the saddest story, but things do change. There will come a day when those who remain will appreciate what is now being preserved...

    Rosenberg; Kodiak, AK / Sarasota, FL / Zhengzhou, CN

  4. Dr. Vett Cowles old location was indeed replaced when all that stuff over the river was torn down. He relocated across from the Flint Journal in the first floor leased spaces of Genesee Towers. He practiced until the early 1980s. Anytime I walked by there, he was apparently on an extended vacation. If he did all that work himself, I'm sure he did very well for his family, despite the caricature described, and earned those extended vacation.


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