Rosie the Riveter Beats Wrecking Ball

The Detroit factory where Rosie the Riveter worked in World War II has been saved from the wrecking ball.

Just last week, the factory was on the brink of being demolished. The owners of Willow Run Bomber Plant set a May 1 deadline for supporters to raise $8 million to get rid of the wrecking ball that would destroy the site where Rosie the Riveters proved they could do men’s jobs.

On Tuesday morning, the campaigners were still $1 million short of the $8 million goal. Things were looking bleak, but the situation turned around later in the day when they were able to close a big deal. With that deal, fundraising consultant Michael Montgomery and his partners were able to save the factory from being demolished.

The $8 million will be used to purchase 150,000 square feet of the large property where the factory is located. According to Michael Montgomery, the fundraising consultant, they were able to strike an agreement to preserve the factory. The purchase deal will be finalized within 7 to 10 days.

Fundraisers are planning to build a museum on the site of the factory. They decided to continue raising money to use for building a plant and setting up the exhibits for the museum. The museum will consist of vintage aircraft displays and the history of the plant, but more importantly, it will star Rosie the Riveter.

Rose Will Monroe became the representative for all the Rosie the Riveters who worked in the plant. During the war, the men were in the military and women took on men’s jobs, such as making weaponry, ammunition, and aircraft. Back then, Rosie the Riveter referred to all the women working in the defense industry, and not just the riveters.

Monroe was also asked to star in the promotional film that featured Rosie the Riveter. It focused on the war efforts being done by the women in the country. In addition to the film, she also became the face of feminism, appearing in Rosie the Riveter posters that urged the women to work and support the war efforts.

During the World War II era, the factory was able to produce one B-24 Liberator bomber in just an hour. The manufacturing of these bombers were also done by Rosie the Riveters who worked in the factory. When the war ended, the plant was used for manufacturing cars, but it eventually closed its doors in 2010.

Today, the Rosie the Riveter plant is managed by the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust or RACER. Redevelopment manager Bruce Rasher said that their goal is for the location to be “the future home of the museum, an outcome the community clearly supports.”

After the fundraising efforts and the fact that the plant almost got destroyed by a wrecking ball, the organizers and supporters are taking a breather, and are going back to working on pushing through with their plans on Monday.

[Images via Paintings Gallery / by Ann Rosener via History in Photos]