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In spite of embers, neighborhood continues…

An early morning arsonist wreaked havoc on the Carriage Town neighborhood Oct. 17, 2010, by igniting its soon-to-be completed community center known as the Hugh Jackson A.B.C. Hardy House. Unfortunately the fire also consumed the adjacent structure slated to become the UM-Flint Urban Alternatives House which was designed to develop adaptive reuse plans for older, less efficient buildings, turning them into sustainable properties for 21st century expenses.

Although yet to be proved, these fires were believed to be related to a rash of arsons beginning in the spring of 2010 that would continue to terrorize the city for months.

In 1898, Hugh Jackson, president and general manager of the Randall Lumber Company, had the house built. Later, A.B.C. Hardy, president of the Flint Automobile Company (recognized as the first manufacturer of automobiles in the city of Flint), lived there.

The Jackson-Hardy House had been in incremental restoration steps for more than 15 years and was prepared for its final phase of development. Hundreds of community members volunteered tireless hour after hour restoring the three-story, 3,500-square-foot Queen Anne style mansion to its original splendor.

In-kind donations of time, expertise, money and knowledge had easily tripled the dollar figure of grant funding used on the building — grant funding set aside specifically for buildings like this to be restored and serve the community.

(It's a commonly misunderstood notion, but this funding could never be used, for example, for additional fire or police resources.)

This alleged arsonist ignited something else — this community's spirit to go on in spite of losing so much.

"I wanted to do something," said Ken Van Wagoner, long time Carriage Town resident. "We can't just sit by without showing that our spirit will go on and rise above this tragedy."

So he submitted a grant to the Neighborhoods Small Grants Program of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. The grant was approved but was not enough. So he created a targeted fundraiser to raise money in order to start a memorial project.

After announcing two brainstorming sessions for ideas on how to memorialize the site, the group decided on an obelisk. Foundation fieldstones were saved from the carnage to be put in the foundation of the monument.

There will be a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Oct. 16 on corner of University and Garland streets. There will be a public comment period for anyone who wants to offer his or her sentiments.

Further tax-deductible contributions can be sent to the Carriage Town Historic Neighborhood Association earmarked for the Jackson-Hardy House Memorial fund. The contact address is CTHNA, P.O. Box 1151, Flint MI 48501.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

 

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