Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 2, 2014

Rosie's Michigan plant saved from wrecking ball

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit-area factory where Rosie the Riveter showed that a woman could do a “man’s work” by building World War II-era bombers has been saved from the wrecking ball, organizers of a campaign to build a museum on the site announced Thursday.

The site’s manager had given the Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant campaign a deadline of Thursday to raise the $8 million needed to buy a 150,000-square-foot portion of the larger property.

As recently as Tuesday morning, the group was about $1 million short of its goal, but later in the day “closed on a big one,” fundraising consultant Michael Montgomery said.

That allowed Montgomery and his partners to get “within spitting distance of the full eight (million)” and enough to go forward with a purchase agreement, which he expects to be finalized in seven to 10 days.

Meanwhile, those behind the effort will go back to raising the additional dollars needed to make the new Yankee Air Museum a reality.

“We’re going to go on raising money past May 1, because we’ve got to build the plant out and create the exhibits of the new museum that we’ve promised.”

Those exhibits will focus on the history of the plant and vintage aircraft, but Rosie will be a star as well, just as she was seven decades ago.

Although women performed what had been male-dominated roles in plants all over the country during the war, it was a Willow Run worker — one of an untold number of women in its 40,000-person workforce — who caught the eye of Hollywood producers casting a “riveter” for a government film about the war effort at home.

Rose Will Monroe, a Kentucky native who moved to Michigan during the war, starred as herself in the film and became one of the best-known figures of that era. She represented the thousands of Rosies who took factory jobs making munitions, weaponry and other items while the nation’s men were off fighting in Europe and the Pacific.

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