8 fun historical facts about Hawthorn Hill, the Wright family’s Oakwood mansion

After canceling events due to COVID-19, Dayton History has announced it will once again offer its Wright at Home event at Hawthorn Hill, the historic Wright family mansion in Oakwood.

Dayton History has started selling tickets for the event, which takes place on April 23.

ExplorePHOTOS: Hawthorn Hill, the Wright family home, through the years

As visitors return for the open-house event, there are some fun historical facts to know about Hawthorn Hill.

  1. Hawthorn Hill was built in 1914, and Orville Wright moved in with his sister Katharine and father Milton.
  2. The property originally covered 17 acres, though most have been sold, leaving three acres now.
  3. During maintenance in 2020, crews uncovered a pair of historic signatures on the wall. The first was written in 1914 by Frank Lutzenberger, who put up gold damask to cover the walls, writing “This entire floor put up by F. Lutzenberger, April, 12 / 1914.” Next to that signature was a message from a designer who redecorated the home in 1949 after it was purchased by National Cash Register: “Remodeled by Clem Welty Deiter 1949 / NCR.”
  4. Hawthorn Hill was named for the abundant Hawthorn trees on the property, but the Wright family also lived at 7 Hawthorn Street in West Dayton
  5. The home was in a much more rural area when it was built – in 1914, it took half an hour to reach Oakwood from downtown Dayton by street car.
  6. The mansion features a whole-home central vacuum system. Housekeepers could connect vacuum hoses to special outlets in the floor or walls to sweep the entire house, using a motor housed in the basement. Despite the convenience, the home’s housekeeper reportedly hated using it.
  7. The basement also contains a vault where Orville Wright would store his patents and documents, since banks at the time didn’t have safe deposit boxes.
  8. Orville Wright lived in Hawthorne Hill until he died of a heart attack in 1948, at the age of 76. The house was sold to National Cash Register, which refurnished every room except for Orville’s library, which was left untouched to honor his memory. The clock on the shelf is always set to the same time – the hour that he passed away.

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