Building No.105, better known as the "Red Barn," south of Seattle, Washington,
documents the humble origins of what is today the world's largest airplane
manufacturer. In 1910, 28-year-old William Boeing
purchased this balloon frame building, built one year earlier, to house
construction of the yacht he was having built for himself. Boeing's interests
shifted from the sea to the air in 1916, and his fledgling Pacific Aero
Products Company converted the Red Barn into its engineering offices and
manufacturing plant. The construction of its first airplane, the 1916 Boeing
and Westervelt (B&W) aircraft, reflected the building's first use: it was
assembled by a team of carpenters, cabinetmakers, seamstresses and shipwrights.
Soon after the B&W, the company produced the B-1, which became the first
airplane to carry international mail. The firm also changed its name to
the Boeing Airplane Company in 1917 after completing a large military contract
to construct 50 Navy training aircraft. However, the company struggled financially
throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Photo by and courtesy of
John A. Burns, FAIA
In 1935, new federal laws prohibited airmail contractors from associating
with aircraft manufacturing firms, but instead of choosing which business
to pursue, Boeing sold all of his stock and left the airplane business altogether.
The company later secured its future when engineers working in the Red Barn
designed the famous B-17 and B-29 bombers that helped the Allies win World
War II. The Boeing Company quickly outgrew the open bay on the ground floor
of the Red Barn and expanded to form a vital industry in the Pacific Northwest.
Boeing sold Building No. 105 to the Port of Seattle in 1970. The simple
two-story, gable roofed barn was restored and reopened as the Museum of
Flight in 1983.
Historic image of Building No. 105
of the Boeing Aircraft Company
Photo courtesy of Washington
Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
The Boeing Airplane Company Building No. 105 was moved from its original
location in the 1970s, and is now located south of Seattle in the city
of Tukwila, Washington, in the 9400 block of E. Marginal Way South, on
the grounds of the Museum of Flight. The Museum of Flight is open daily
from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and 10:00am to 9:00pm on the first Thursday of
every month; closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a charge for
admission. Call 206-764-5700 or visit the musem's website
for further information.