The Wright Company Factory, located near W. Third St. in Dayton, has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Preservationists have lobbied for more than a decade to receive the special site designation.
The factory buildings were built in 1910 and 1911 and served as the first airplane factory in the United States. Inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright produced more than 100 planes at the factory.
Kendell Thompson, superintendent at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, says the historic designation opens the door for new educational programs to happen on the site.
“Between those two buildings alone, we've got just under 40,000 square feet of space to do things like STEM programs, interactive exhibits and trainings, and there's just a lot of possibilities of things that we can do,” he says.
In 2018 the city of Dayton purchased the 54-acre factory site for $1 million to help redevelop the property. Included in their plan is the addition of a new West Dayton library branch, to be built on any land not aquired by the National Park System.
Mackensie Wittmer is executive director with the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, a group that has been working to secure the historic designation for the Wright Company Factory. She says NAHA and its partners will work on the redevelopment plan in the coming months.
“We're slowly chipping away at this project and we are looking at what we can accomplish in 2020 as a team,” says Wittmer. “I'm so thankful for the National Park Service as they move forward with the acquisition of the buildings.”
The National Park Service is authorized to purchase the Wright Factory buildings and a portion of the surrounding land for $450,000 through the Land Water Conservation Fund. Officials say the final purchase price, however, will be determined through an appraisal of the assessed value of any property and costs associated with the purchase, such as environmental studies, surveying and planning.