Air museum buys Rosie's old bomber plant, has new name
- Yankee Air Museum officials to sign papers Thursday for part of plant.
- Another $5 million will be needed to refurbish section of Willow Run facility.
- Plant used to produce one B-24 every hour, nearly 9,000 total during WWII.
Detroit — Rosie the Riveter's old plant in Michigan has officially avoided the wrecking ball.
Yankee Air Museum board chairman Ray Hunter signed papers Thursday making the aviation museum the owner of a 144,000-square-foot slice of the former Willow Run Bomber Plant, where Rose Will Monroe and other workers built B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II.
The signing ceremony represented the culmination of efforts to raise the $8 million needed to save part of the factory for the nearby Yankee Air Museum's new home.
"The building is truly saved," said Michael Montgomery, a consultant on the fundraising effort.
After the signing event, 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.
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 U.S. 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.
He said $5 million more is 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 was owned by the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust. It took control of sites around the country left behind in General Motors' bankruptcy.
RACER Trust is overseeing the demolition of the massive plant. The section bought Thursday would have been razed if Yankee Air Museum hadn't stepped in.
The Willow Run factory, which was built by Ford Motor Co. and featured a mile-long assembly line, churned out one B-24 every hour and nearly 9,000 in all.
It transitioned to producing cars after the war ended and made them and parts for more than a half-century under the GM name.