Wright Brothers Original Bike Shop Threatened With Demolition

by Matthew Wilson

A piece of history is about to go up in smoke. The Wright Brothers’ historic bike shop will soon exist as only a figure of the now distant past.

You see, the bike shop will soon be demolished. The Dayton Board of Zoning Appeals approved a request by the city to destroy the building. The building stood for 129 years now and is tied to the rise of the airplane, via the Wright brothers.

According to Fox News, the city is concerned about the integrity of the building. In the request, they listed concerns that the building could collapse at any day. Additionally, they believe the Wright Brothers shop to be too damaged to properly restore and maintain.

Initially, the Dayton Landmarks Commission rejected the request to demolish the building. Back in September, they agreed that the building was damaged to a great extent. But they recommended the city find a way to renovate to preserve as much as they could of the historic landmark. They also recommended the city re-advertise the site as well.

Additionally, the demolition has found critics as well. Several preservation groups opposed the plans to destroy the Wright Brothers’ historic site. They recommended keeping the buildings’ facade. They wanted to incorporate the feature into a redevelopment project. If so, the building then would be eligible to acquire tax credits for being a historic site.

But the city appealed that decision to the Zoning Appeals Board. And that committee ultimately sided with the city. In a 5 to 1 vote, they approved the city’s plan to destroy the building. So soon, the site will be no more.

The Wright Brothers’ History

We would have to go back to 1892 to explain the historic significance of the site. The Wright Brothers first ran their bike shop there. As many know, Wilbur and Orville Wright became among the first aviation pioneers. Many credit them with building the first airplane.

Their initial biking passion gave way to one of aviation. They started work on the first airplane in the early 1900s. In 1903, they made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with the Wright Flyer. Of course, it took time to work out the kinks.

In 1904 to 1905, they continued to perfect their craft. Gem City Ice Cream Co. later bought the building. They owned it until 1975 when they sold the property. Over the years, the building has had several owners. But it has since fallen into disrepair and failed multiple inspections.

It was deemed structurally unsafe.