Wright Company Factory – Dayton, Ohio - Atlas Obscura
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Dayton, Ohio

Wright Company Factory

The world's first aircraft factory has been hiding inside an automobile plant for almost 80 years. 

After sitting amidst the huge manufacturing buildings of a car factory since around 1919, the airplane factory built by the famous Wright Brothers has finally been exposed as the towering facilities surrounding it have been demolished, and it is in surprisingly wonderful condition!

Created by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1910, the Wright Company Factory only produced aircraft under the auspices of the pioneering brothers for six years before being sold. After being sold off to another burgeoning aircraft company for a short stint, the factory buildings were taken over by General Motors in 1919. The auto manufacturer quickly built up factory infrastructure around the historic buildings as the site was converted to create cars. The complex continued to grow over the decades, but the Wright Brothers’ original facilities remained in use, nestled among the newer buildings, and slowly falling out of memory.  

The historic buildings were hidden from the neighborhood for nearly 80 years until the surrounding buildings, now owned by Delphi Automotive, came down in 2013 and 2014, after they had closed the plant in 2008. When the buildings came down, residents were shocked to see the Wright Brothers’ buildings still standing, slightly updated, but largely unchanged. While they had been expanded upon, the long rectangular buildings, with their gabled roofs were still instantly recognizable. 

The buildings are now being restored by the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and the National Parks, and periodic free tours are available. The American economic downturn has been devastating on almost every level, but rediscovering these historic buildings is a fine silver lining.