The building is best remembered as the place where William C. "Billy" Durant, co-founder of Durant-Dort, made his transition from carriage "king" to a pioneer leader of the automotive industry. Durant, like the building, was once largely forgotten, but is now appreciated as rivaling Henry Ford in bringing the United States into the automobile age. (The Society of Automotive Historians ranks Ford No. 1 and Durant No. 2 in auto history). Durant's grandfather, Henry Crapo (pronounced Cray-po), was Michigan governor during the Civil War. Durant, a brilliant entrepreneur, is a historical hero locally for making Flint the birthplace of GM, the city's proudest achievement.
Durant also boosted the careers of other famous Flint-based auto pioneers - including David Buick, Louis Chevrolet, Walter Chrysler, Charles Nash, AC Spark Plug founder Albert Champion and Flint’s major philanthropist, Charles Stewart Mott.