National Park Service Logo

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Sites

For more information on each of the following seven locations, review the sites below or visit www.nps.gov

Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Wright Cycle Company
WrightDunbarIntBuilding

Capture the spirit and imagination of three inventive, creative men whose lives came together in Dayton, Ohio—aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, and writer Paul Laurence Dunbar—at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

This National Historical Park—a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and Dayton-based partners Aviation Trail, Inc., Carillon Historical Park, the Ohio Historical Society, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—commemorates the lives of the Wright brothers, first to fly a powered, heavier-than-air machine…and Dunbar, the first African-American writer to earn high distinction in American literature.

At the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, you’ll see exhibits that demonstrate how the lives of these three men came together to weave a rich historical tapestry with implications far beyond the west side of Dayton. Orville Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar were classmates in school… and, when the Wright brothers ran a printing shop in the 1890s, they printed Dunbar’s newspaper for the African-American community, the Dayton Tattler.

Next, you’ll visit the Wright Cycle Company, the fourth location of the Wright brothers’ bicycle business, and the only one intact and at its original location. You’ll see the bicycle technology the Wrights incorporated into the structure and mechanisms of their gliders and flyers.

For more information, please visit www.nps.gov.

Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial
DunbarMemorialBuilding

Explore the life, times and creativity of a true pioneer in African-American literature with a visit to the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial.

At this Italianate residence—the final home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar—you’ll see his literary treasures, many of his personal items, and his family furnishings. And you’ll gain a new appreciation for the man who became known as the poet laureate of African-Americans.

Dunbar was born in Dayton on June 27, 1872. In grade school Dunbar was composing poetry; in high school, his works were published in the student paper. His first book of poems, Oak and Ivy, was published in 1892.

During his short life, Dunbar published 24 books. Drawing on his own observations of society—and the stories of his parents who had been slaves—Dunbar gave voice to the social dilemma of disenfranchised people and addressed issues of equality and justice. He counted among his friends Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Dunbar was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1899. In 1902, he came to this home to be with his mother Matilda, where he died in 1906. The home, operated by the Ohio Historical Society, has been restored so you can experience the furnishings and wallpapers of the era when the Dunbars lived in the house. Interpretative displays also provide you with a richer appreciation of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s imagination, creativity and contributions to literature and to life.

For more information, please visit www.daytonhistory.org.

Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center
HuffmanInterBuilding

See the place where Orville and Wilbur Wright developed and tested the world’s first practical airplane—and the memorial built to honor their lives and achievements—at Huffman Prairie.

Located northeast of downtown Dayton on the grounds of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, this area includes the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center, the Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and the Wright Memorial.

At the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center, you’ll see exhibits that focus on the achievements of the Wright brothers at Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and the story of their continuing legacy as embodied by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Dedicated in 2002, the interpretive center is owned by the U.S. Air Force and operated by the National Park Service.

For more information, please visit www.nps.gov.

Huffman Prairie Flying Field
HuffmanPrairieBuilding

The Wrights spent a considerable amount of time developing a dependable, fully-controllable airplane at the actual Huffman Prairie Flying Field. While visiting this field, imagine the hundreds of test flights of the Wright Flyer III…and the training of more than a hundred pilots, including some of the first military flyers, at the Wright School of Aviation located on the site. What’s more, it was the site for the first commercial air-freight flight, which took off from Huffman Prairie Flying Field to Columbus, Ohio in November 1910. You can also see replicas of their 1905 hanger and launching catapult.

While visiting the Huffman Prairie sites, you’ll want to visit the Wright Memorial, a 27-acre designed landscape. The memorial was dedicated on August 19, 1940—Orville Wright’s 69th birthday. The monument itself is a 17-foot-high obelisk of pink North Carolina granite.

By visiting these sites, you’ll have a new appreciation for efforts and accomplishments of the Wright brothers, and how they took aviation from that brief flight at Kitty Hawk to actual cargo and military service in less than a decade.

For more information, please visit www.nps.gov.

John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center at Carillon Historical Park
CarillonParkBuilding2

Gain a new appreciation for the accomplishments of Orville and Wilbur Wright—and the era in which they lived—with a visit to the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center.

Located in beautiful Carillon Historical Park on Patterson Blvd. just south of downtown Dayton, the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center tells the story of the Wright brothers’ lives and their historical achievements. At the Center you’ll be able to examine the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, originally restored under the close direction of Orville Wright. You’ll also see the camera that captured the famous photograph of the Wright’s very first successful flight on the beaches of Kitty Hawk in 1903.

While at the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center, be sure to visit the Object Theater, where you’ll experience a captivating multimedia presentation of some of the most significant artifacts associated with the Wright brothers, such as an original Van Cleve bicycle, one of the Wrights’ own designs.

As part of your exploration of the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center, you can experience a replica of the bicycle shop the brothers operated from 1897 to 1908. In addition, you’ll want to visit the other historical buildings that depict the Miami Valley’s settlement, transportation, invention and industry…all located within Carillon Historical Park on the banks of the Great Miami River.

By visiting the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center and other attractions of Carillon Historical Park, you’ll have a new understanding of the life and times that shaped the Wright brothers…and how their inventions transformed the rest of the world.

For more information, please visit www.daytonhistory.org.

Hawthorn Hill
HawthornHillBuilding

Due to an exciting partnership between Dayton History and The Wright Family Foundation, Hawthorn Hill, the Oakwood mansion that Orville Wright called home for nearly 35 years, is available for tours. This joint venture marks the first time that the structure will be accessible on a regular basis for members of the general public.

The building itself has had a long and colorful history of hosting distinguished visitors. Charles A. Lindbergh, internationally acclaimed for his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, was invited to visit in June of that year on his return flight home to St. Louis. During his visit with Orville, throngs of people gathered on the lawns of the house, hoping for an impromptu view of this newest American hero. The unruly crowd dispersed only after Lindbergh and Orville appeared together on the front portico balcony for a few short minutes. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and former Ohio Governor James Middleton Cox stopped at Hawthorn Hill to pick up Orville for a joint visit to Wright Field. More recent visitors include President Ronald Reagan and professional golfer Arnold Palmer.

Even after Orville’s death in 1948, the mansion continued to welcome individuals from across the country and around the world. When efforts to find an individual to purchase the home failed, the executors of Orville’s estate listed the property on the real estate market. The National Cash Register Company, at the direction of executives Colonel Edward Deeds and Stanley Allyn, decided to purchase the property on the very day that the ‘For Sale’ sign was placed in the yard. NCR not only meticulously cared for the home but also preserved many of its original furnishings during the nearly 60 years of service as a NCR corporate guest house. The company returned the property to the Wright family in 2006.

For more information, please visit www.daytonhistory.org.

Wright Company Factory Site

The Wright Company Factory Site is closed to the public now, but work is underway toward the goal of opening it to visitors sometime in 2016. See our news releases for the latest updates.

Read more information about the Wright Company Factory Site project.