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Historic Districts - Smith/Aldridge House

The first permanent structure erected on this site was probably the trading post built in 1819 by Jacob Smith, the founder of Flint. Fluent in English, French, German and a half a dozen Indian languages, Smith represented the Chippewa nation at the Great Council held in 1819. At that council, the Indians ceded six million acres of land to the federal government. Five sections of that land, including this site, were reserved for Smith's children. In 1873; Smith's daughter Louisa Payne and her husband, Chauncy, donated this site to the First Baptist Church of Flint. The group worshipped here in a white clapboard sided church from 1873 to 1889. Around 1892, Stephen Crocker built five houses in this area, including this vernacular Queen Anne-style building.
Fred Aldrich (1861-1957) moved into this house in 1894. A native of Van Buren County, Aldrich had come to Flint at age eight, when his father purchased the Flint Globe newspaper. In 1880, Aldrich established the Otter Lake Enterprise newspaper in northeast Genesee County. In 1889 he began working for his childhood friend, William C. Durant, as a clerk at the Flint Road Cart Company. He became secretary of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company upon its incorporation in 1896. He was the only secretary of that company and its successor, the Dort Motor Car Company, which closed in 1924. As a banker, Aldrich was instrumental in building the Durant and Flint Tavern Hotels. A prominent civic leader, he helped found the Community Chest, the local American Red Cross chapter and the Flint Improvement Fund.

Registered Site L1396
Erected 1986

Location: 221 West First Avenue

Flint, Genesee County