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The Durant

The Durant Hotel served as Flint’s premier hotel for over 50 years. From 1920 to 1973, it provided luxury accommodations fit for the various dignitaries, celebrities, and business leaders visiting General Motors from around the world. Moreover, it served the City of Flint as a grand venue for all manner of weddings, conventions, and other celebrations over the course of its life. Perhaps the building’s most enduring trait is the name itself. Hotel Durant was named in honor of the founder of General Motors, William C. Durant, after he stepped down as president of the company for the last time. W.C. Durant was a charismatic leader whose passion and ambition alloxwed him to build successful businesses from the ground up. He started his first business purchasing a patent on a two-wheel carriage in 1885. It didn’t take long for his carriage business to grow, and by the end of the 19th century he was a millionaire. However, with the days of the horse drawn carriage numbered, Durant would soon find himself in a new business: that of selling automobiles.

As a major manufacturer of both carriages and gasoline engines, Southeastern Michigan would quickly become the center of the automobile world, and Flint, being the home of W.C. Durant, would become the epicenter of that world. Countless inventors and mechanics in the area attempted to build their own versions of the horseless carriage, introduced to the U.S. in 1895. W.C. Durant, a leader in the carriage business, would soon be drawn into a partnership with a company started by one of these inventors, David Buick. Under Durant’s leadership, the Buick brand took off to become one of the most successful in the U.S. Its manufacturing facility in Flint was the largest in the world at that time, and it provided jobs to countless individuals in the area.