Wright Broth­ers Na­tional Memo­rial vis­i­tor cen­ter to re­open, events planned

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY MARTHA QUILLIN [email protected]­sob­server.com

The Wright Broth­ers Na­tional Memo­rial in Kill Devil Hills will re­open its vis­i­tor cen­ter Satur­day af­ter a nearly two-year ren­o­va­tion that up­dated ev­ery­thing in the build­ing, from plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal to vis­i­tor ex­hibits.

The Na­tional Park Ser­vice will cel­e­brate the re­open­ing with a day of spe­cial events and free ad­mis­sion for all vis­i­tors.

In the ren­o­vated space, vis­i­tors will get a look at the lives of Orville and Wil­bur Wright, ex­plor­ing their char­ac­ters, div­ing into prob­lems they solved and the meth­ods they used that ul­ti­mately led to their first flight on Dec. 17, 1903. Ex­hibits in­clude a re­pro­duc­tion of the Wrights’ bi­cy­cle shop and a demon­stra­tion of how the twist­ing of a bi­cy­cle in­ner tube box in­spired the con­cept of wing-warp­ing in flight.

Along the jour­ney, vis­i­tors will en­counter peo­ple who helped the in­ven­tive broth­ers, in­clud­ing Katharine Wright, Paul Lau­rence Dun­bar and Charles Tay­lor.

The park ser­vice’s south­east re­gional di­rec­tor, Robert Vogel, and Na­tional Parks of East­ern North Carolina Su­per­in­ten­dent David Hal­lac will give speeches be­gin­ning at 9:30 a.m. The park will hold a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony, af­ter which Dare County fourth-graders and their fam­i­lies will be the first vis­i­tors al­lowed in to see the new ex­hibits on avi­a­tion and his­toric preser­va­tion, and par­tic­i­pate in new ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing arts and math.

A sched­ule of the day’s events can be found at https://www.nps.gov/ wrbr/learn/ news/18_046.htm.

The site of the Wright broth­ers’ flight was ini­tially set aside as a na­tional mon­u­ment in 1927, and the next year a gran­ite marker was placed at the ap­prox­i­mate take­off site. In 1932, a 60-foot-high py­lon was erected nearby, on the top of Big Kill Devil Hill, to com­mem­o­rate the broth­ers and their achieve­ment.

The vis­i­tor cen­ter was added at the site in 1960 and the build­ing met crit­i­cal ac­claim that the park ser­vice said took many by sur­prise. It be­came a na­tional show­case and helped le­git­imize the use of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural style in na­tional parks. Ac­cord­ing to its Na­tional His­toric Land­mark nom­i­na­tion, the vis­i­tor cen­ter is one of the four most sig­nif­i­cant ex­am­ples of the par­tic­u­lar strain of Amer­i­can mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture that can be de­scribed as Park Ser­vice Mod­ern.

Ren­o­va­tion of the 9,900-square-foot cen­ter cost be­tween $5 mil­lion and $6mil­lion.

With its re­open­ing, vis­i­tors will again be able to see a re­pro­duc­tion of the 1903 Wright Flyer that made his­tory at the site.

Na­tional Park Ser­vice

The Na­tional Park Ser­vice will cel­e­brate the re­open­ing Satur­day of the ren­o­vated vis­i­tor cen­ter at the Wright Broth­ers Memo­rial in Kill Devil Hills with a day of spe­cial events and free ad­mis­sion for all vis­i­tors.


As Wil­bur Wright looks on, brother Orville pi­lots the Wright Flyer in its his­toric flight on Dec. 17, 1903.

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