We saved a 144,000 sq. ft. portion of the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant from demolition in 2014. But there is still a long way to go to turn our piece of the Plant into a Museum. March, 2016 marks the end of one full year of restoration work, and there is a much progress to celebrate! With your continued help, we can turn Rosie’s WWII factory into the future NEW home of the Yankee Air Museum!
Highlights of our first year of restoration work include closing a hole in the roof while installing a roof access hatch, which was the very first piece of the restoration work!
This was followed by the removal of all post-WWII modifications to our saved portion of the Plant. As an example, the 2nd and 3rd floor mezzanine areas were enclosed by makeshift walls over the years, and these were opened up to their original WWII era configuration. The entire modifications removal phase took 3 months.
Power washing and cleanup was the next step, to remove over 70 years of accumulated dirt and grime! Interior and exterior washing took another 3 months to complete.
The demolition of the majority of the Plant left our remaining portion lacking in external support in some areas. We brought in the building’s original architects, the Albert Kahn Company to do a structural analysis. As a result, new steel reinforcements were added to the building in the summer of 2015.
The most striking improvements came when the “missing” walls on the north and west sides of the building — actually gaps left in the building walls when the rest of the building was demolished — were replaced with brand new walls, to fully enclose our saved portion of the building!
Our Architect, URS Corporation, designed the new exterior walls to echo the original design of the building while providing for a much more energy-efficient structure. Our general contractor Phoenix Construction, has worked diligently to suggest the best and most cost effective techniques to restore our 75 year old building.
A brand new, state-of-the-art hangar door was installed on the north side of the building, which will be used to bring aircraft in and out of the new Museum.
Temporary electricity has been installed in the Plant, to prepare for interior buildout work, which will begin in the summer of 2016. Meantime, 3 of the Yankee Air Museum’s historic aircraft were able to spend their first winter in many years, indoors at the Willow Run Bomber Plant! See exciting video of airplanes returning to the Bomber Plant after over 50 years here.