Historic Wright buildings to be preserved in new project

DAYTON, Ohio — Demolition of 1.2 million square feet of former Delphi manufacturing buildings in Dayton has begun, paving the way for commercial redevelopment and historic preservation. Still standing and to be preserved on the 54-acre site are two century-old buildings originally built by the Wright Company, the aircraft manufacturing enterpris established by the Wright brothers.

“In December 2012, Home Avenue Redevelopment took title to this site and in doing so, took a major step forward in preserving a significant piece of Dayton’s aviation history,” said Brad White, a principal with Home Avenue Redevelopment and vice president at Hull & Associates, Inc., an Ohio-based project development, energy, and engineering company. “Today, we begin the next step in the process of restoring this brownfield property to a productive economic reuse by demolishing the blighted buildings on-site and protecting the historic structures for the public.”

The company is working with the City of Dayton, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) to redevelop the site for commercial and industrial use while preserving the historic Wright Company factory buildings for eventual public use as an element of the national park.

“Redevelopment of this property will be transformative for the area neighborhoods and potentially all of west Dayton,” said Timothy Downs, Dayton’s deputy director for economic development. “It will not only bring jobs to the neighborhood, but will also remove over 50 acres of vacant industrial properties and provide a new public green space. In addition, a new national park unit will provide residents with a new source of neighborhood pride and vitality, while further strengthening the Dayton region’s essential role in aviation and commercial history.”

Built in 1910 and 1911, the two Wright Company buildings were the first in the United States to be built for the purpose of manufacturing aircraft. Together with three buildings added later, they turned out military aircraft parts during World War I.

General Motors acquired the buildings in 1919, and they were used for automotive parts manufacturing until 2009, when Delphi closed the plant.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed an act that added the buildings to the boundaries of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park along with Hawthorn Hill, Orville Wright’s Oakwood mansion.

“The Wright Company sites are significant because they were the origins of the American aircraft industry. Every one of the major aerospace companies can trace its roots back to this site,” said Dean Alexander, national park superintendent.

The site offers a wide range of opportunities to examine the lives of American workers in the first decade of aircraft manufacturing, Alexander said. “This is a place where we can talk about World War I and middle-class manufacturing jobs. It’s a 100,000-square-foot blank canvas,” he said.

While the two Wright Company buildings will be dedicated to National Park use, the remaining three buildings offer opportunities for other institutions or companies to operate educational, research or commercial activities that complement the site’s aviation heritage, said Tony Sculimbrene, NAHA’s executive director.

“Imagine learning how to design, build and maintain aircraft in the very place where the industry began,” Sculimbrene said.

Hull is overseeing the demolition and remediation work at the site, which is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Where possible, scrap materials will be recycled, with concrete and asphalt crushed and used as backfill on-site. Cleanup of the site is being funded by contributions from DPH Holdings Corporation, the company that emerged from the Delphi Corporation bankruptcy proceedings; Home Avenue Redevelopment; and the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund.

For more information: Hullinc.com


  1. Greg W says

    Good to hear that these buildings will remain, yet it is also sad. They will be in a park showcasing the manufacturing that once made this country a world industrial power. When we can only look back at what we have done and not what we can do today it is melancholy at best. With luck these sites may inspire a new generation to endeavor to recreate the industrial greatness of our past generations.

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