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2013-07-26 06:58

GOING BACK TO ITS ROOTS: General Motors has bought this historic Michigan factory, the birthplace of the company. Image: GM

FLINT, Michigan - General Motors has bought an historic factory in Flint which dates back to 1880. The automaker said it will use the building for special occasions and displaying vintage cars.

GM said the deal involved the Durant-Dort Carriage ‘Factory One’ building which a GM executive called “the centre of the automaker’s heritage”, according to the Detroit News.

HISTORIC TIES

GM’s Tom Wickham said: “We might use the historic factory - some of which dates to 1880 when it was part of the Flint Cotton & Woolen Mills - to showcase historic GM vehicles or host auto reveals and events for dealers and the community. We do visualise that there would be some vehicle displays in there, historical in nature.”

The DetNews said GM did not say what the deal cost but repairs to the roof, walls and other structural improvements would begin later in 2013.

GM North America president Mark Reuss announced during an annual dinner in May 2013 that the automaker planned to buy the historic 2323 square metre building. "We’ve begun the process of assuring that the historic significance of that factory will be realised.”

Reuss in May said GM would donate the equivalent of R490 000 to the Durant-Dort Carriage Company Foundation to help with its annual budget of R245 000, plus repairs and renovations needed for the Durant-Dort office building, which is across the street from the factory.

NATIONAL LANDMARK

GM told the DetNews the office was a national historic landmarkused from the late 1890's to early 1900's by William ‘Billy’ Durant and as headquarters for the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, a horse-drawn carriage business, and his other automobile businesses. GM was founded in 1908 by Durant.

Reuss said: “We are eager to preserve and protect the very birthplace of General Motors. To me, it just seemed like an opportunity too great to pass up.”

The office building would continue to be occupied by the Genesee County Historical Society, GM said. The automaker employs about 7500 people in the Flint area and has invested the equivalent of more than R10-billion to facilities since 2009.
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