National Park Service official tours Wright Company factory buildings

DAYTON, Ohio — A National Park Service official toured the Wright Company factory site Tuesday, April 30, the highest-ranking park service official so far to tour the place where America’s aerospace industry was born.

Patty Trap, deputy regional director for the park service’s Midwest Region, said the project to restore the first American factory built for the purpose of aircraft production has drawn the park service’s attention.

“This has caught our eye and our interest,” she said after the hour-long tour of the buildings, which are a part of the former Delphi Home Avenue automotive plant. “While this project is big, we think we have the right partnership” for it to succeed.

Wilbur and Orville Wright formed the Wright Company in 1909 and had two buildings constructed in 1910 and 1911 to manufacture airplanes. Three buildings were added later. General Motors Corp. acquired the buildings in 1919 and later converted them to auto parts manufacturing.

The complex grew into what became the 54-acre Delphi Home Avenue plant, which closed in 2008. The following year, Congress added the five buildings to the boundary of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, but the park doesn’t own the buildings and they aren’t open to public tours.

The national park is working with the city of Dayton; a redevelopment company, Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC, and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) to clear most of the site for commercial reuse while preserving the Wright Company buildings. Ohio awarded a $3 million Clean Ohio grant for the work, and Home Avenue is spending $1 million of its own money.

“The Wright Company factory project is going to be a success thanks to the strong support we are receiving from the National Park Service,” said Tony Sculimbrene, NAHA executive director. “Patty Trap’s visit to Dayton will help deliver the resources that will ensure we can tell the full story of the Wright brothers’ work in Dayton, work that helped launch the aviation industry in the 20th century.”

The National Aviation Heritage Alliance is a private, not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity for the National Aviation Heritage Area. It’s one of 49 National Heritage Areas under a program administered by the National Park Service. NAHA’s vision is to sustain the legacy of the Wright brothers and make the Dayton region the recognized global center of aviation heritage and premier destination for aviation heritage tourism.

For more information: AviationHeritageArea.org

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