Short Indiana Road Trips
Visiting the Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum
The Wilbur Wright Birthplace and Museum affords visitors an excellent place to learn about one of Indiana’s most famous native sons, Wilbur Wright. The Wright family had extensive ties to the Hoosier state, having resided at various places in Indiana during Orville and Wilbur’s formative years. The home is the site of Wilbur Wright’s birth. It is where he spent his early childhood.
Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912)
His father Milton and mother Susan moved a lot while Wilbur was a child due to Milton’s job. When Wilbur was two, the family moved from Indiana to Dayton, Ohio. Here, in 1871, Orville Wright was born. It was during their stay at Dayton that Milton brought home a toy helicopter in 1878 that enthralled the two boys. This toy helicopter spurred the boy’s interest in their quest to fly. In 1881, the family moved to Richmond, Indiana where Wilbur attended high school. During this time, the boys had tried to build flying helicopters from the model their father had given them. These did not fly well, so the brothers began building kites. Wilbur had accrued enough credits to graduate, but their sudden move back to Dayton prevented him receiving his diploma. He planned on going to college at Yale, but his mother became sick with tuberculosis and he stayed home to care for her.
After stints in the printing and bicycle repair and manufacturing businesses, the brothers return to studying flight from after learning of Octave Chanute’s glider experiments on the shore of Lake Michigan near Miller Beach, Indiana. The Wrights based their design on Chanute’s biplane glider he tested there.
The Wilbur Wright Home
The house on the site is not the original home in which Wilbur Wright was born. The house was constructed in 1845 and purchased by Milton in 1865. The home went through several owners and renters by the time the State of Indiana purchased the home on April 21, 1929 it was in a state of disrepair. The state razed the house in 1955, replacing it with a monument. Efforts at reconstruction began in 1971 when archeologists located the original foundation. Workers constructed the present house in 1973 using materials and design elements of the original house as much as possible. On November 3, 1995, the State of Indiana deeded the property to the Wilbur Wright Birthplace Preservation Society. The home is furnished with period furniture, many original to the Wright family.
Adjacent to the home visitors will find a fabulous museum that includes photos, memorabilia and artifacts from the Wright brother’s quest for flight. The museum has a reproduction of the Wright brothers bicycle shop in Dayton and the shops nearby. Visitors can also visit a reproduction of the camp the brothers set up at Kitty Hawk to conduct their experiments. The only full size reproduction of the Wright Flyer built to fly is also on display in the museum. The museum is self-guided; however, the visitor will find numerous signs, charts and other informational material to afford an educational and enjoyable tour. The staff does offer guided tours for school groups, buses and other groups.
Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum
1525 N. 750 E.
Hagerstown, IN 47346
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