Saturday, August 8, 2009

Charles Stewart Mott comes to town.

Mott in front of the G.M. headquarters in Detroit.  The Town Mott Built.

This is the document that first brought Charles Mott to Flint. Mott and his associates liked what they saw in Flint and decided to move their entire operation there. Another inducement was a loan of $100,000.00 floated through the Flint banks. The Weston -Mott factory would go up simultaneously with Buick factory #1 on Hamilton ave. in the Oak Park Industrial area. A few interesting things about this document are, William Durant also adding that he was from the Durant-Dort Carriage Co. Also under the carriage company reference you will notice the initials of the person who typed this document,  C. L. which stood for Catherine Lederer. The story goes that Durant's daughter Margery was a friend of Catherine and were both the same age (19). Durant was 45 at the time but as with many older men he was a cradle robber. Catherine's mother would not allow this relationship, so in an end run Durant hired her as his secretary. They would marry in 1908 the day after his divorce from his wife Clara was final. The last thing you will note is that this was done on the Jackson factory stationary. 

Buick And Flint

Durant and Bishop.

An exhibit at the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan recreating this historic moment in Flint and General Motors history.

April 24, 1905 the document that brought Buick assembly back to Flint.

Arthur Bishop at his desk in Flint ,Michigan.

Inside the Bishop home showing the table where the above document was signed.

Arthur Giles Bishop home on Kearsley street. This was where the document was signed that brought Buick assembly back from Jackson, Michigan to Flint. The document also refers to the building of the new factory complex to be erected in Flint. This house was demolished to make room for the new Buick freeway I-475.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Flint Road Cart

Here is the only known surviving "Flint Road cart". I took this photo in the spring of 2008. It dose not have a very prominent place at the Sloan anymore. note: They now have found an original "Coldwater, Michigan built" version that is on display at the Sloan. Early Coldwater map

Robert J. Whaley president of Citizens National Bank at the time that Billy Durant needed money to purchase the tooling and patents for the Road Cart, could not have known the importance that this one loan would have on the future of Flint. The Flint Road Cart shown in the top photo (Invented by William Schmedlin and Thomas O'Brien in Coldwater, Michigan) was the vehicle that started William Crapo Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort on there long journey. It is the only known survivor, now owned by the Sloan Museum in Flint. Shown in the middle photo is the original bank book showing the $2,000.00 loan that started them on their way. This book is on display in Flint Michigan at the Whaley Historical House. They had earlier agreed on a handshake but the formal date of their partnership would be this book, dated September 28, 1886. Pictured at the bottom is Whaley himself. Of all the historic events that led to the creation of General Motors the most important would have to be Durant being late for a meeting at either the Flint Gas Works or Water Works plant, "two different accounts are in different publications". If he had not been running late and had not by chance came upon John Alger, who was an employee at the Bussey Hardware store of which Dallas Dort was Manager at the time. And if Alger had not offered Billy a ride in his new buggy, the whole history of the auto industry as we know it would be quite different. I wonder what made him late on that particular day? One account states he was checking meters before going to this meeting. Since both used meters it is hard to say which is correct. Gas at that time was used for lighting. Also people were not paying their water bills because of the horrible service they were receiving. Another interesting twist of fate would be William A. Paterson (Paterson advertisement) one of Flints leading carriage makers, who would eventually build the first carts for the Flint Road Cart Company. In a chance meeting with one of Durant's customers he tried cutting Billy out as the middle man. This taught Durant a valuable lesson that he would never forget. And that is when Durant and Dort decided to build the carts themselves. This was the start of the Flint Road Cart Company.   Woman investor.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Carriage Town Factories.

This 1896 view of the Durant-Dort factory is from the trade magazine "Headlight Flashes". They really have the buildings greatly distorted. I have noticed that the factories in this area of the city at that time were all done like this.





Looks like a racing sulky.

Detail of the seat arrangement.

Detail of the patented spring that gave the cart it's unique and smooth ride.

Detail of the foot rest area.

Looks like they have found another surviving cart. This yellow one is an original from the Coldwater Michigan factory before Durant purchased the business.

They now have a pretty nice display for Durant-Dort at the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan.

This was the only known surviving road cart that started Durant and Dort on their historic journey.

The first factory inspection for Michigan in 1894.

Article from December 1895 announcing the name change from Flint Road Cart to Durant Dort.

Here is a view inside the Durant-Dort factory.

In this east view during the 1904 flood, you can see the collapsed wall of Durant-Dort #1 at the extreme left. The Water street bridge is covered with ice and rubble. This old bridge is the one we used too cross on the way downtown in the 60's. The bridge was removed in the 70's for the Riverfront Beautification project.

A view from the roof of factory #1 facing east during the 1904 flood.


Durant-Dort workers.

Here you see the collapsed wall of factory #1 viewed from the Water st bridge. You can see a different view at the following link. This view is facing south.

Flint Photos Supplied From The Weaver Family

Looking east up water street during the 1904 flood. March 1904 flood link You can see the Water st bridge in the distance. This shows factory #1. The call box (#58) on the pole is Mason st. in front of the office.

This shows the factory during Flints Golden Jubilee in 1905. The first electric line was run to this factory in 1901. Durant lived within walking distance of the factory at the corner of Garland and Fourth, which is now part of the Carriage Town area. I believe his house was on the south east corner.

This west view shows the Water st bridge with the Durant-Dort factory #1 beyond. This is the bridge we used to cross in the 60's when it was closed to vehicles.

This west view shows the bridge from Grand Traverse St. To Smith St. in the 1800's. The Flint Road Cart Company plant is not visible in this photo. It would be off to the right.


An 1895 view of the Flint Road Cart Company from their catalog. This view is facing north west over the Flint River. The name of the company was changed on November 6, 1895 to Durant-Dort Carriage Co.

The officers in 1887. back row-left to right: James Slocum, Charles Wesson, Charles Webster. In center is J. Dallas Dort. front row-left to right: W.C. Durant, A.B.C. Hardy, W.C. Orrell, Fred Aldrich

Just a color postcard I found in my collection. This shows the new window configuration on the river side wall after it collapsed during the 1904 flood. follow the Weaver family link for the flood photo

Flint Photos Supplied From The Weaver Family

This shows the original factory that occupied the site of the current Durant-Dort factory, which was built between 1898 and 1902. You are facing north. The new factory would be built on an east west axis.   

This view showing the crossing at the Grand Traverse is from an 1879 history of Genesee county.

This reference to the Oren Stone family who were prominent in Flint during the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century shows the wife of Oren's son Dwight Stone. His wife is shown as being the daughter of  Andrew & Frances (Briscoe) Brow. She is most likely related to the Briscoe family in Detroit. David Buick and Benjamin Briscoe were in the early automobile business together in Detroit. It is not much of a stretch to make the connection of why Benjamin would be in Flint at the opportune time and hear about James Whiting looking to get into the auto business. This is from "The History Of Michigan" by: Charles Moore in 1915. This story seems to corroborate the story about how Benjamin Briscoe first heard about James Whiting wanting to get into the automobile business and eventually bringing the Buick co. from Detroit to Flint. The story is related in the page below From Lawrence Gustin's 2nd edition of his fine book "David Buick's Marvelous Motor Car with assistance from historian Kevin Kirbitz.

This was, for many decades, the location of The Flint Journal building which now belongs to the MSU. campus. Notice Stones Terrace located directly east behind the Opera House which is now a parking lot for The Flint Farmers Market..             
Oren Stone headstone and extended family.

This artist's rendering of the area shows that Water st. was also called South st. at least until 1914. View facing south east.

A view of the office prior to the 1906 fire, when the third floor was added and it became a flat roof once again. The exchange for the Durant-Dort office was 984. "Quite a short telephone number by today's standard".

Another view from a collage of the Durant-Dort factories in Flint sometime between 1898 and 1906.

This view the same as below only after 1915 and the creation of the Dort automobile.

Another view facing north west before 1915 showing the flat roof on the office off center right.

An earlier view of Durant-Dort factory #4, also know as the Diamond buggy factory. April 1904 announcement. updated news on building This building was destroyed in an arson fire in 1987 (shown below). This view is south east from Grand Traverse st.

This view of the south wall of old Durant Dort factory #4 shows it when it had numerous other business being conducted.

This view at factory #4 is facing north east over the Pere Marquette rail line. The tracks have now been removed. Factories #2 and #3 were subsidiary's of Durant-Dort they were Webster Vehicle Co. and Victoria Vehicle Co. Located at different locations in Flint.

Links: The Birthplace Of General Motors with Mark Reuss and Kevin Kirbitz.
Flint Road Cart
Flint Photos Supplied From The Weaver Family
My Mother and General Motors Birthplace.

From Kevin Kirbitz

This is factory #1 directly across the street from the office. Factory #4 is visible in the distance. This view is facing west up Water st.

Local news media was at the National Landmark and Carriage factory to get an update of what is happening on Water Street. Here they are checking out the restored front brick facade and the new windows on the left hand side of the photo. The crew is currently working on the river side of the building. November 2014.

This is the way my mother always knew this building. This view is facing north east across water st. with Mason st at the left.

Black and white photograph taken in 1937 during the Flint, Michigan strike, showing the view from the Industrial Savings Bank Building (now Northbank Center) Saginaw Street. That is old Durant Dort in the background. Link: Original.

For the first time since 1915, the Durant Dort Carriage Co sign has been returned to the front of the National Landmark. The sign is a reproduction of the original sign on loan to us from Dallas Dort. Link: Durant Dort Carriage Factory Landmark.

In 1978, former Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin presents a check for $20,000 to restore the building.

The Genesee County Historical Society was given the building after the Flint Bicentennial Commission recommended taking it on as a bicentennial project in 1976.

This photo is after the late 20th century reconstruction.

Above is an early photo of the Durant-Dort office. Link: Kevin Kirbitz Facebook.

To see the different faces of this historic building follow this link.
My Mother and General Motors Birthplace.

This first map is from 1898 showing 2 floors. Tegan Baiocchi who is doing a grad project on Carriage Town in Flint sent along these Sanborn insurance maps from 1898, 1902, 1909 and 1914. They show the changes to the structures through these early years. For the history of the changes at the Durant-Dort office check out the site Carriage Town Advocate . They tell about the fire in 1906 and other interesting features.

1902 showing 2 and a half floors.

1909 showing 3 floors.

1914 showing 3 floors.

All the following photos are from the MICHIGAN LIVE site.

Link for Durant-Dort Facebook site photos. Link for June 1987 story mentioning this table and chairs.

We've recently acquired a rare, circa 1898, Buick & Sherwood Manufacturing Co. bathtub! Manufactured in Detroit and used in a California hotel, the tub is now on display at the DDCC office. With it's unique combination of sink, tub, and faucet, we've linked it to five of David Buick's twenty-five awarded U.S. patents. Buick & Sherwood was a very successful plumbing supply manufacturer from 1884 to 1900. The tub was manufactured at a time when Buick had already started designing and building gasoline engines and shortly before the first Buick automobile was built in Detroit around 1899, when Dave Buick and his partner William Sherwood announced plans to manufacture "motor carriages." Link for original: Facebook.

Kevin Kirbitz Back To The Bricks.