Located just north of downtown Flint, the factory dates to 1880, when it was built by the Flint Woolen Mills company as a short-lived venture into cotton textiles. In 1886, William Crapo “Billy” Durant and business partner Josiah Dallas Dort leased the facility and formed the Flint Road Cart Company – which became the Durant-Dort Carriage Factory and one of the largest carriage builders in the world.
Eventually, Durant would take control of another company – Buick Motor Co. – and leverage his Durant-Dort resources to grow the young automaker into one of the most successful car companies in the country. Durant used Buick’s success to build General Motors in 1908 and turned to his friends from Flint’s carriage industry to form Chevrolet in 1911.
The carriage market eroded with the seismic societal shift to automobiles, and the Durant-Dort Carriage Company ended production at Factory One in 1917. The building and others in the complex were converted to manufacture automobiles for the new Dort Motor Company until that business ceased operations in 1924.
In the more-than 130 years since Durant and Dort set up shop at Factory One, it housed countless other businesses and was renovated in the 1980s, before falling into disrepair.
GM purchased Factory One in 2013 and transformed it, with the goal of preserving and showcasing the original architecture.
The renovation of Factory One as a modern archive and research center brings the facility full circle, preserving the shared heritage of GM and Flint as a learning tool for future generations.