For immediate release
March 26, 2014
Timothy R. Gaffney
Director of Communications
(937) 219-8277 (mobile)
Editors: Print quality photos are available in our Drop Box folder: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/h7glkrnkjyksbvn/gNaxtiDbhE
Please credit photos to National Aviation Heritage Alliance or NAHA.
DAYTON, Ohio—Turning a page in Dayton’s transportation history, demolition crews have begun tearing down the former headquarters building of General Motors Corp.’s Inland Division near the Wright brothers’ airplane factory.
The demolition work is visible along U.S. 35 east of Abbey Avenue on the former Delphi Home Avenue site. It’s part of a $5 million project to clear the site and prepare it for redevelopment while preserving the original two buildings of the Wright Company factory.
Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC, the site’s owner, expects to finish demolition by mid-summer and sell the property. The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is working with the company, the National Park Service, the City of Dayton and the Dayton Development Coalition to find public and private money to acquire the historic Wright Company parcel for preservation and use as a unit of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. The state capital budget bill now in the Ohio legislature includes $250,000 for this purpose.
The Wright Company factory is the birthplace of America’s aerospace industry—the first American factory built for the purpose of producing airplanes. It’s also tied to Dayton’s automotive history.
Orville Wright sold the Wright Company in 1915, and a new one—the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company—bought the buildings to produce military aircraft parts in World War I. General Motors acquired Dayton-Wright in 1919. In 1922 it converted the Wright factory to auto manufacturing, turning out a new steering wheel invented by Dayton-Wright engineer Harvey D. Geyer. Geyer’s wheel was so successful that GM formed the Inland Division to produce it.
The division grew from there, expanding around the original Wright buildings and creating thousands of jobs. GM reorganized Inland under Delco and eventually spun it off as Delphi, which continued to operate the Home Avenue plant until it closed in 2008. In 2009, Congress authorized the National Park Service to add the factory buildings to its national park in Dayton.
While demolition of the Inland headquarters eliminates one symbol of transportation history, it will bring another into view. The Wright Company factory buildings have been hidden behind the building for decades. Once demolition is complete, thousands of motorists daily will be able to see the historic Wright factory from U.S. 35.
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the National Aviation Heritage Area. NAHA’s vision is for the Heritage Area to be the recognized center of aviation heritage tourism and aerospace innovation, sustaining the legacy of the Wright Brothers. The National Aviation Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administered by the National Park Service. It encompasses eight Ohio counties—Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize. Visit www.aviationheritagearea.org to learn more about NAHA.