'Rosie the Riveter' World War Two bomber plant needs $8 million to live on as museum

Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:29pm EDT
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By Joseph Lichterman

DETROIT (Reuters) - The factory where "Rosie the Riveter" helped build bombers during World War Two and became a symbol for women contributing to the war effort outside the home has been given a two-month lease on life while a campaign tries to raise $8 million to save it from a wrecking ball.

The Willow Run Bomber Plant campaign, founded by the Michigan Aerospace Foundation and the Yankee Air Museum, has until October 1 to find the money that will allow it to separate and preserve a small part of the Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti Township, about 40 miles west of Detroit.

The idea is to relocate an air museum to the site, which is adjacent to Willow Run Airport.

The property is held by the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response trust (RACER), which was created to sell real estate that was given up by General Motors Co during its 2009 bankruptcy proceedings. GM built transmissions there after the war.

The Willow Run Bomber Plant campaign said it has raised more than $4.5 million. The initial funding deadline was August 1, but the extension was granted because it would not interfere with the planned demolition of the factory, said Bruce Rasher, redevelopment manager for the RACER trust.

"We're very hopeful that the Yankee Air Museum is successful in their efforts," Rasher said. "If they are, there will be a small piece of history preserved at the site in conjunction with what we expect will be a state-of-the-art manufacturing and research facility."


Rosie the Riveter was introduced to the world in a song by the same name that was recorded by big band leader Kay Kyser. American illustrator Norman Rockwell further immortalized Rosie on the May 29, 1943 cover of the Saturday Evening Post.   Continued...