I grew up in a small town 13 miles north of Flint, Michigan. While I realize that I’m not “from” Flint – it was not the city on my mailing address or where I went to school – it still has the draw of home. It was my stomping grounds. That’s where I went to Meijer, Target and the mall. The Vehicle City provided a small town girl with the conveniences that weren’t available in a town with an urban population 2,500 people. My Grandpa worked at GM as did many of my friends’ parents. And since most people aren’t familiar with the town of Clio, for the first 18 years of life instead of giving a geography lesson, Flint is where I claimed to be from.
The stories of Flint’s decline are prevalent. I’ve never been okay with the tale of a dying city, crumbling structures and lost history. I cannot stand it when someone tears down a historic home or leaves a stunning old building standing in decay. New is not better! And when it hits this close to home, it’ all the worse. Between the closing of the factories, the increased crime rates and now the undrinkable water, the future of Flint seems hopeless.
But I’m excited to plan a wedding there.
Yes, I am planning a wedding in Downtown Flint. And I am excited. The prospect of bringing something beautiful to a dismal place is a symbol of hope. There is a least one gorgeous venue in the area which holds so much history. William C. Durant is credited for founding General Motors. The Durant Hotel was named in his honor. After years of a vacant existence, the landmark building has been restored. What was once a symbol of prominence and success, is again a beautiful vision of the potential the city still holds. In its heyday, it was known for its luxury accommodations, events and grand ballroom. The building’s smaller ballroom still holds its original spender and will host my sister’s wedding next week.
Once again, I’m going to tell you how excited I am for my sister’s wedding. But this post isn’t about her, it’s about the city that she chose to be wed in. And I’m sure she’s not romancing this declining city the way I am, but I’m still glad she chose to have a wedding near home. We looked at venues across the state, she didn’t hold any loyalties to the area. But in a really, really small way, I feel like we’re helping. Business is staying local. Every dollar counts. I love supporting local and hometown efforts.
It’s also been a welcomed challenge. Do you ever try to look at the world around you in a different way? I’ve been forced to see the beauty as well as the decay. I want to think about what it would have been like to be one of the original residents in the area. I can only imagine an era of carriages turned to horseless automobliles in a scenic city along a beautiful river. Somehow, I feel like we’re telling their side of the story. We’re honoring their history. Just picture the 1920s scene of a lavish woman parading proudly down the street in a proper long gown and a dapper gent on her arm. Next week, that scene will come to life once more.
Photography: Samantha James Photography