Yankee Air Museum to move into old Willow Run plant following campaign to save building as commemoration of women’s contribution to second world war effort.
A second world war aircraft factory in Michigan that was home to Rosie the Riveter has been saved from the wrecking ball following an $8m campaign to relocate a nearby aviation museum.
Yankee Air Museum board chairman Ray Hunter signed papers on Thursday to take ownership of a 144,000sq ft slice of the former Willow Run plant, where Rose Will Monroe and other workers built B-24 Liberator bombers during the second world war.
The signing ceremony was the culmination of an $8m fundraising campaign to buy part of the factory to become the nearby museum’s new home.
“The building is truly saved,” said Michael Montgomery, a consultant on the fundraising effort.
Hunter, Montgomery and others associated with the Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant campaign want to convert the factory and dedicate it to aviation and all the other Rosies who toiled at similar US plants to aid the war effort.
“We’re very proud that we played a part in preserving” the plant, which “contributed so much to our victory in World War II,” Hunter said.
Following the signing, two ‘Rosies’ unveiled the name and logo of the planned facility: National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run.
“If we’re telling the Arsenal of Democracy and Rosie story, this is the place to do it,” said Montgomery.
He said $5m more was needed to “fill out the interior of the building” — to create the exhibits and infrastructure necessary to transform the edifice into a museum.
The facility in Ypsilanti Township, west of Detroit, was owned by the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (Racer) trust. It took control of sites around the country left behind in General Motors’ bankruptcy.
Racer is overseeing the demolition of the massive plant. The section purchased on Thursday would have been razed if Yankee Air Museum had not stepped in.
The Willow Run factory, which was built by Ford Motors and featured a mile-long assembly line, churned out one B-24 every hour and nearly 9,000 in all.
It switched to producing cars after the war ended,providing parts for more than a half-century under the GM name... (more at: http://www.theguardian.com/)