The Ruth Mott Foundation’s collections at Applewood include a variety of objects and documents thanks to the Mott family, who documented their life through diaries, photographs, and videos. When Ruth Mott passed away, her wish was that Applewood be preserved as a community resource in honor of her husband, Charles Stewart Mott. Thanks to Ruth Mott’s foresight, Applewood is open to the community as a place of learning, beauty, and tranquility, and its collections give us insight into the history of C.S. Mott, the estate, the city of Flint, the family philanthropies, and General Motors.

Mott family at stable with horses and hay
Family members playing cards in the living room

C.S. Mott (top right) is pictured outside a barn at Applewood. (Ruth Mott Foundation Archives)

Stewart, C.S., Ruth, and Maryanne playing cards in the Living Room at Applewood, 1962. (Ruth Mott Foundation Archives)

Types of Collections

The Ruth Mott Foundation archives help illustrate how Flint became “Vehicle City” as well as a worldwide model for Community Education. The tens of thousands of archival documents include C.S. Mott’s daily diaries, the family’s personal correspondence with friends and associates, business documents for General Motors and Weston-Mott Wheel & Axle Company, and paperwork for both the Charles Stewart and Ruth Mott Foundations.

Campaign literature for C.S. Mott's run for mayor in 1915

C.S. Mott for Mayor card, 1915. Ruth Mott Foundation Archives.

Archival image of Ruth Mott with a group of Community Service Officers, 1967

Ruth Mott with a group of Community Service Officers, 1967. Ruth Mott Foundation Archives.

The photographs in the collection date from the mid-1800s to 2000. The images and videos, mostly captured by Mott family members, show a family deeply invested in the Flint community through involvement in the automotive industry, their foundations, and giving back to others. The photography collection has 35mm film, large format negatives, transparencies, antique scrapbooks, motion picture film, silver gelatin prints, and even nitrate film.

C.S. Mott helped put the world on wheels during his time at Applewood. His wife, Ruth, recognized his achievements and wanted to celebrate her husband’s contributions to Flint and beyond by preserving Applewood and its historic contents. Unlike many historic homes, nearly all of Applewood’s furnishings and other items are original to the Mott family.

The home is filled with antiques, custom and mass-produced furniture, rugs, lamps, and fixtures that make a comfortable family home.

For a guided mindfulness exercise with Mrs. Mott’s chair, click the link below.

Ruth Mott sat in this chair in the entrance hall waiting to greet guests arriving at Applewood. Ruth Mott Foundation Archives.

Top: Drawing by Ethel Cuthbert Harding, 1894. (Ruth Mott Foundation Archives) Bottom: Risky Intentions by Chakaia Booker, a piece on loan from the Mott-Warsh Collection, is on display at Applewood in Flint. It was installed in 2007.

Top: Drawing by Ethel Cuthbert Harding, 1894. (Ruth Mott Foundation Archives) Bottom: Risky Intentions by Chakaia Booker, a piece on loan from the Mott-Warsh Collection, is on display at Applewood in Flint. It was installed in 2007.

Applewood is home to both fine and decorative art as well as large-scale outdoor art installations. The grounds have been an inspiration for many artists for over a century, including C.S. Mott’s first wife, Ethel Mott, who was a painter, and Ruth Mott, who was a dancer and enthusiastic supporter of arts and culture.

C.S. and Ruth appreciated art in all of its forms and collected items that they loved. The house is adorned with paintings and sculptures primarily from American and European artists.

The Motts supported the arts in Flint, donating time, resources, and works of art to local organizations that are still on display today, ensuring community access. Today, this legacy continues through the family’s foundations and the Mott-Warsh Collection, a privately owned and publicly shared collection initiated by Maryanne Mott (daughter of C.S. and Ruth) and her late husband, Herman Warsh, to make fine art accessible to a broader audience in Flint and beyond. Pieces of the Mott-Warsh Collection can be viewed at Applewood, the Ruth Mott Foundation’s main office, MW Gallery in downtown Flint, and additional locations in Flint and other cities. Learn more at the link below.

Research Requests

Are you conducting research on the history of Flint, the automotive industry, or the Mott family? The Ruth Mott Foundation Archives are open to researchers by request. Fill out the form below to contact us.

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Resources & Assistance

Explore our collections and the history of the Motts through our Discover Applewood Online Exhibitions site.

In addition, explore our other online programs such as Storytime or Mindfulness on our Virtual Programs page.

Ruth Mott Foundation staff present about online exhibitions at a museum conference

Ruth Mott Foundation staff Malcolm Cottle & Renee Saba presenting about online exhibit platforms at the Association of Midwest Museums, 2018.

Our team at Applewood continues to preserve the historic collections, thereby contributing to our community’s collective history. With C.S. Mott’s involvement in the early automotive industry and the Mott family’s commitment to community service, the collections allow us to better understand the history of our region and the nation.

Wood conservator, Magali Maus, in 2019 working on a bench from the Weston-Mott factory.

Wood conservator, Magali Maus, in 2019 working on a bench from the Weston-Mott factory in Flint, Michigan. The bench dates back to about 1908 and is currently on loan to Factory One.

Trying to do your part to save history? Want to know more about how to save your images, videos, keepsakes? The resources below may help guide you on preservation projects. Remember, by saving memorabilia, you are adding to the history of your community.

These free external resources include information on preserving photos, textiles, documents, collectibles, digital & analog media, and how-to guides:
Gaylord Archival
University Products 

This external resource includes free searchable archived webinars for a wide range of items and materials, such as clocks, fur, leather, silk, taxidermy, quilts, furniture, books, headstones, and more: Connecting to Collections Care.

In addition, check out our Lunch & Learn workshop on Photo Preservation.

Historic photos at Applewood

Archival records from the collection, cataloged and placed in preservation housings, ready to be stored and saved for another 100 years.

Ruth Mott Foundation staff at Applewood can provide preservation assistance to our community. Are you affiliated with an organization that has preservation needs? Have questions about your preservation project? Contact the Collections Assistant with your request.

Ruth Mott Foundation staff discuss preservation in the gallery at Applewood

University of Michigan-Flint History students learn how to care for and handle historic objects at Applewood.