Eldorado’s Ghost

12 12 2010

The Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau  encourages every Lansing resident to, be a tourist in your own town. This is a laudable sentiment and indeed Lansing offers wonderful things to see and do. However, there are things every resident should see that will never be shown in a tourism brochure.

I visited such a place this November (2010). It is the former site of the General Motors Craft Centre.

Originally built in 1919, as a General Motors foundry it was eventually used to produce Chevrolet Cavaliers, Cadillac Eldorados, Pontiac Sunfires and Buick Reattas. It was closed in 2006.

Today, General Motors is making a comeback. However, throughout Lansing and other Michigan cities there remain many reminders, like this one, of the cost of that recovery.

Here are few images of what remains of the Craft Centre. A word of warning. This is private property. It is fenced off and marked “no trespassing,” and that should be respected. The images shown here were accessible without violating the no trespassing signs and were taken from outside of the fenced off areas.

All images are © 2010 Michael Maurer Smith, all rights reserved.

GM Craft Centre site, Lansing, MI. © 2010 Michael Maurer Smith


GM Craft Center site, Lansing, MI, © 2010 Michael Maurer Smith

GM Craft Centre site, Lansing, MI, © 2010 Michael Maurer Smith

GM Craft Centre site, Lansing, MI, © 2010 Michael Maurer Smith




3 responses

4 01 2011

These images are just heart-rending. They’re not only stark reminders of what’s happened in your state, but reminders of what happened to my town, Newton, Iowa, after the company got into trouble and then was bought out by Whirlpool. Now, the town’s surviving, but utterly transformed.

I looked but could find an explanation for “Craft Center”. Was it named after a person, “Craft”, or in the beginning was the fabrication taking place there considered a craft?

I believe I read the last car came off the line in 2006. If that’s so, it’s amazing how quickly the place went downhill.

5 01 2011

The name referred to the function of the Craft Center and not a person. It had originally been a foundry but was latter converted to a car assembly plant.

Growing up in Owosso, which is about 40 miles from Lansing and 25 miles from Flint, it was accepted that after high school (I graduated in 68) if you didn’t go to college or into the military you’d try to get in one of the “shops.” That meant Chevrolet or Buick in Flint or Oldsmobile and Fisher Body in Lansing. As it turned out I worked one summer (as a college student and after the Marines), in a stamping plant in Owosso, that made parts for American Motors.

My hometown of Owosso and Lansing are both doing ok, but unemployment is still very high. Flint is in terrible shape.

4 01 2011

How much we take for granted. For years, Newton was so synonymous with “Maytag” no one thought to specify the company! 🙂

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