Hawthorn Hill, Oakwood (Montgomery County)

#1404 of 1,865 in Things to do in Ohio
Landmark · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Hawthorn Hill in Oakwood, Ohio, USA, was the post-1914 home of Orville, Milton and Katharine Wright. Wilbur and Orville Wright intended for it to be their joint home, but Wilbur died in 1912, before the home's 1914 completion. The brothers hired the prominent Dayton architectural firm of Schenck and Williams to realize their plans. Orville and his father Milton and sister Katharine occupied the home in 1914.

Though the property now comprises three acres (1.2 ha), the mansion originally sat on 17 acres (69,000 m2). The Wrights named the property after the hawthorn trees found on the property. There are at least 150 hawthorn trees on the site.

Orville Wright designed some of the mechanical features of the house such as the water storage tank used to collect and recycle rainwater, and the central vacuum system; these features reflect his creative genius. For 34 years, this house was the gathering place for the greats and near-greats in the history of American aviation.

The home was owned by the NCR Corporation after Orville's death until August 18, 2006, when the company donated the historic home to the Wright Family Foundation in honor of Orville's 135th birthday and National Aviation Day. NCR used it as a guesthouse for corporate VIPs and for corporate functions. On occasion they opened the home to the general public.

In September 2007, Dayton History, in cooperation with the Wright Family Foundation, began offering scheduled public tours of Hawthorn Hill.

NCR extensively redecorated the mansion's interior after Orville's death. Only Orville's study approximates its pre-1948 appearance. However, Edward A. Deeds, then-chairman of the National Cash Register Company sent a photographer to the home immediately following Orville's death to visually record the interior of the house at that time.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior designated Hawthorn Hill a National Historic Landmark in 1991 and added it to the U.S. World Heritage Tentative List in January 2008 as a part of the Dayton Aviation Sites listing. It is a component of the National Aviation Heritage Area.
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Hawthorn Hill reviews

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11 reviews
  • We really enjoyed visiting the home. The guide provided great insights of the Wright family and the history of the home. It has been restored to the way it looked when Orville lived there and is a...  more »
  • This is truly a hidden gem. The home was build by Orville Wright and he lived here until his death in 1948. The tour guide Chris, tells the story of the Wright Brothers and the family as well as the.....  more »
  • Oh my goodness ! This tour was outstanding! The tour guide was phenomenal! Don’t miss this piece of history! So much to learn about the Wright Brothers!!! So glad we took this tour well worth the low cost of the short bus tour and well worth the time, very educational! You will not regret this one at all !!!’
  • It is a very imposing mansion on a hill. I'd like to offer more analysis, but it is rarely open, and wasn't open on the day we drove up to it. Without having been there, it does make me rather sad to think about. There Wright Bros. and their sister designed it to live it their days, together. As it eventually worked out, Wilbur died and Catherine unexpectedly got married, after which Orville refused to speak to her. So... Orville lived here alone, and to me, the house is sort of a symbol of a family's hopes and plans that were never realized.

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