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GM Restores Historic Durant-Dort Factory One in Flint, Michigan

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The newly restored Durant-Dort Factory One in Flint, Michigan

Today General Motors opened the restored Durant-Dort Factory One, the historic Flint, Michigan GM plant that has been referred to as the American automaker’s birthplace and epicenter of the global auto industry.

Originally the Flint Road Cart Co., the facility was first established in 1886 by GM founder William Crapo “Billy” Durant and his business partner Josiah Dallas Dort. The newly revitalized facility now includes event space and a modern archive, where future generations can learn about the rich history of the plant.

“Factory One sparked the global auto industry and was a catalyst in the formation of General Motors,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “It preserves the stories of the early visionaries who built a brand-new industry in this city, within the very walls of where it happened.”

Factory One is meant to be as much about the history of automobile production as it is the relationship between GM and Flint, and the newly reopened facility will now be available to the public by appointment, with an event space that can be rented for corporate, community, educational events and more. Up to 300 people can be accommodated by the space.

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The newly restored Durant-Dort Factory One in Flint, Michigan

Main floor of the restored Durant-Dort Factory One displays historic carriages and automobiles

Also open to the public is Factory One’s archive, which is free to use and contains about 100,000 historical documents, photos, and other artifacts related to GM history and the tradition of carriage-building and early automobile manufacturing in the Flint area.

Many of the research library’s materials will come from nearby Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute), including thousands of Durant documents and items donated by his widow. Included among the collection is a pivotal 1908 letter from a New York law firm suggesting he name his new automotive company “General Motors.” There are also historic papers from former GM leaders Harlow Curtice, F. James McDonald, Elliott “Pete” Estes, and innovator Charles Kettering.

Rare carriages and automobiles with Flint roots also will be on display at the grand opening of the facility. Factory One will also be used to host classic auto clubs and events, such as the city’s annual Back to the Bricks, which brings enthusiasts from around the world to Flint each August.

“Factory One is part of the very fabric of Flint, and its reopening is as much about the future as it is the past,” said Kevin Kirbitz, Factory One operations manager. “It is a tremendous community asset and academic resource that will educate and inspire generations to come.”

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