Column:  A visit to Wilbur Wright’s birthplace


Today, in our continuing visits to places within driving distance of Indianapolis, we stop at the birthplace of Wilbur Wright, about 7 miles east of New Castle.

Milton Wright, ordained in the Church of the United Brethren, and his wife Susan lived in several places in Indiana before purchasing a 5-acre farm near Millville in 1865. On April 16, 1867, Wilbur, the Wrights’ third son, was born in the farmhouse, where the family lived until 1868. The family then lived in Hartsfield, Ind., Dayton, Ohio (where Orville and Katherine Wright were born), Cedar Rapids and Farm, Iowa, and Dublin and Richmond, Ind., where Wilbur and Orville attended, but did not complete, high school. The family moved permanently to Dayton in 1884, where Wilbur and Orville operated bicycle and printing businesses while working on designs for their flying machines.

In 1929, Indiana bought the Millville farm where Wilbur was born. In 1955, with increasing maintenance costs, the state demolished the farmhouse and erected a monument in its place. In 1973, Indiana rebuilt the house on its original foundation, attempting to duplicate its materials and designs. In 1995, the state donated the property to the Wilbur Wright Birthplace Preservation Society.

Today, the farmhouse includes period furnishings. The adjacent museum includes a full-scale replica of the plane the Wright Brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on December 17, 1903; a reproduction of the cabin they lived and worked in while in Kitty Hawk; and a recreated 1903 Main sSreet. The museum also includes pictures and memorabilia of the Wright family and copies of historic documents, including the telegram announcing the success of the first flight. Along one wall is a statement from then-Bishop Wright in the late 19th century, proclaiming that the dream that man would someday fly was “heresy; flight is reserved for angels.”