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Heritage Museum to Open New Rohr Aircraft Exhibit

South Bay Historical Society

PRESS RELEASE: The Rohr Aircraft Corporation had a profound impact on the history of Chula Vista and the aircraft industry. A new exhibit on the history of the corporation will open in the Chula Vista Heritage Museum, located in the Civic Center Library, 365 F Street, after the Friends of the Chula Vista Library annual meeting. Set for Sunday, January 29, the public is invited to the meeting which begins at 2 p.m., and the exhibit opens at 3:30 p.m. followed by a reception. Mayor Mary Salas will attend, along with Jennifer Luther, granddaughter of founder Frederick Rohr. The grand opening will honor retirees of Rohr, who are invited.

At the Friends’ meeting, local historian Dr. Steven Schoenherr will give a presentation about Rohr. As president of both the Friends’ Museum Board and the South Bay Historical Society, Schoenherr was instrumental in researching the new exhibit, which will include photographs, materials from the Rohr Corporation, anecdotes from retired employees, items from the Library’s local history collection, as well as memorabilia from the Rohr family. The exhibit will include a new feature whereby museum attendees can use their smart phones to scan a QR code in a display case and link to a web page with more information about the display.

Launched by Frederick Rohr, the company was the world’s largest producer of engine power packages from World War II to the 1990s. Rohr pioneered the concept of a “feeder” subcontractor supplying vital airplane components to the factory where the plane was assembled. He developed new tools such as the drop hammer, and new materials, with honeycombed titanium among them. A major employer in Chula Vista from the 1940s to the 1990s, Rohr employed up to 10,000 workers in its 67 buildings on 162 acres along the Chula Vista bay front from G Street to J Street. The influence of the Rohr weekly payroll was dramatically demonstrated in 1954 when Fred Rohr paid his workers in silver dollars, flooding the community with bags of coins.

The Rohr museum exhibit follows the museum’s inaugural exhibit on the Great Flood of 1916, which will officially close on Sunday, January 22. Supported by the Heritage Museum Board and with funding from the City of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Library Foundation, a chapter of the Friends of the Chula Vista Library, the Heritage Museum relocated in early 2016 from Third Avenue to a space in the northwest area of the Civic Center Library. It is open during the library’s regular hours, seven days a week. The Rohr exhibit is funded by the Local Heritage Museum Chapter of the Friends of the Chula Vista Library and a Community Enhancement Program Grant, via County Supervisor Greg Cox, from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

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