Something To Check Off Your List This Summer – Tour Hawthorn Hill

Photo: Alpha Media-Dayton

It’s in your own backyard but many have never seen it.  It’s just a couple blocks west of Far Hills Avenue in Oakwood.

Hawthorn Hill is Orville Wright’s ‘success mansion’. Visitors here have included Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison to the world’s first pilot’s last home.

With its white pillars and twin porches, Hawthorn Hill has long been synonymous with Orville Wright and the Wright family. After purchasing property at the corner of Salem Avenue and Harvard Boulevard in Dayton, the Wright brothers’ younger sister, Katharine Wright, soon cajoled her world famous brothers to move construction to Oakwood’s rolling, idyllic hills. Although both Orville and Wilbur were involved in planning the home, Wilbur died of typhoid fever on May 30, 1912, at age 45.

Upon completion in 1914, Hawthorn Hill became the residence of Orville, Katharine, and their elderly father, Bishop Milton Wright. Over the next 34 years, the mansion welcomed Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and other luminaries.

When Orville died on January 30, 1948, Hawthorn Hill was purchased by National Cash Register (NCR) for use as a corporate guest house. For 58 years, the historic home was wonderfully preserved, but only open intermittently. Many regional residents long wondered what sat inside Orville’s mysterious mansion high upon an Oakwood hilltop.

But in August 2006, at the suggestion of Congressman Mike Turner, NCR gifted Hawthorn Hill to the Wright Family Foundation. Managed by the Wright brothers’ great-grandniece, Amanda Wright Lane, and great-grandnephew, Stephen Wright, the Wright Family Foundation asked Dayton History to manage and interpret the home.

In March 2009, Hawthorn Hill became part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. In June 2013, ownership was officially transferred to Dayton History. It is now open to the public, and though NCR remodeled the Colonial Revival home, they meticulously photographed Orville’s original décor. Dayton History is busy bringing the property back to its original appearance.

Hawthorn Hill tours are conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays for those who have made advance, prepaid reservations. Tours will depart Carillon Historical Park via shuttle van promptly at 10:00 and 12:30. This unique experience is very popular and space is limited to no more than 10 visitors per tour. Don’t delay! Make your plans now to visit this National Historic Landmark. The regular ticket price is $12.00 per person. A special combination ticket for admission to both Carillon Historical Park and Hawthorn Hill is available for $15.00 per person. Dayton History members receive a discounted ticket price of $10.00 per person. Call Guest Services for additional information or to make your reservation: 937-293-2841.

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