Cemetery tours part of city's Back to the Bricks

Actors at grave sites to talk about early days

By Scott Atkinson
The Flint Journal

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Back to the Bricks has been focusing on immortalizing some of the big names of the auto industry in bronze, but this year they’re looking to take car lovers to the final resting places of some of those people.

On Aug. 17, the last day of the weeklong car show, Back to the Bricks organizers are partnering with Glenwood Cemetery to give tours of the graves of the people who built the auto industry, and who founded and shaped the city of Flint.

“It’s one of the oldest cemeteries in Genesee County,” Back to the Bricks founder Al Hatch of Glenwood told The Flint Journal.

Peter Lemelin, Glenwood’s superintendent, said that actors in period costumes will be on the grounds talking about the way things used to be in Flint — something Hatch said he’s looking forward to.

“They’ll stand by these tombstones, and apparently they talk about the early days of Flint,” Hatch said.

The tours won’t be guided. Those who visit will be free to roam the grounds, “at their leisure,” Lemelin said. “It will be more of a walking tour at their own pace.”

Buried at Glenwood are figures like J. Dallas Dort, Charles Stewart Mott, Robert Whaley, James Whiting, Arthur Giles Bishop, William Ballenger, among others. Jacob Smith, the man credited for being the founder of Flint, is also buried there.

“The list really goes on and on,” Lemelin said.

Hatch said he was happy when he got the call from Lemelin letting them know of all the old industrialists buried there, and that they’d done tours in the past.

“He said, ‘You know, we got a lot of these guys buried here,’” Hatch said.

But it’s not just the car guys who are laid to rest at Glenwood.

According to MLive-Flint Journal files, 38 mayors are buried in the cemetery, as well as two governors, a lieutenant governor and several other politicians. There is also a soldier and generals from the Revolutionary War in the cemetery.

“The tours I give are a 90-minutes crash course in the history of Flint,” Lemelin said.

The tours are free. Lemelin said he’s been working with some car clubs to arrange special group visits.

Hatch said organizers are working with the Mass Transit Authority to set up a shuttle route between the downtown car show and Glenwood.

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