|The Restoration of
New Orleans Lakefront Airport
Current photos are courtesy of KarenApricot and Infrogmation.
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|If you like the 1930's Art Deco style or if it warms your heart to see an
architectural/historical gem saved from the wrecking ball or if you
just like happy endings, then, Lakefront Airport is the place for you.
|One of only 5 original Art Deco air terminals left in
the country, Lakefront is the oldest and largest.
|Hundreds of Art Deco terminals were constructed in the 1930's, as air travel
came into its own. But almost all of them were soon demolished to keep up
with the times and increased traffic. Lakefront Airport survived only because,
in the mid-1940's, the commercial airlines moved to a different airport.
|Lakefront opened in 1934 under the name of Shushan Airport. Many
considered it the finest in the country. Features included a post office,
a cafe and a restaraunt, medical clinic with surgical suite, and sleeping
quarters (where Amelia Earhart stayed on her way to her last, fateful flight).
|But it was the lavish architectural details that caused some to refer to it
as an "Art Deco wonderland." The people who did the marble, stone, metal,
and wood work were the finest artisans and master craftsmen of the era.
|The airport was renamed in the late 1930's and continued to service
private, non-commercial planes. In the 1960's, to the dismay of those
who understood the value of its style and detailed features, the building
was renovated and the exterior was encased in two feet of concrete.
|The interior was totally re-done, and all of the features completely covered.
But, thankfully, the architects of that time didn't destroy most of the exterior
or interior architectural details. Instead, they covered and preserved them.
|They remained in hiding for the next 50 years. When Katrina flooded the
building in 2005, it was time to make a decision: restore the building to it's pre-
Katrina state, restore it to its original 1930's glory or call in the wrecking ball.
|Now, after years of painstaking, meticulous restoration, Lakefront Airport, once
again, stands proudly, like the venerable and gracious grande dame she really is.
-- Nancy, September, 2013
|The images below are postcards of the airport, ca. 1930's;
the bottom postcard shows the Lindbergh Hangar.
|It was the first combined land and seaplane air terminal in the world.
|Above and below, interior, ca. 1930's
|The three photos below were taken before restoration, but after the coverings
had been removed and the Art Deco features were discovered. Every effort
was made to restore the terminal to its original blue print specifications and
to restore the building's features to their original appearances.
|According to aviation historian, Vincent Caire, there's not another
building like it in the United States.
|One of eight original murals by famed artist Xavier Gonzalez. Fortunately,
they had been covered with rice paper to protect them before being walled
up in the 1960's renovation. Six of them were still there and a seventh has
been returned. Fundraising will soon begin to restore the murals.
|"It's like a battered child, but it survived, and its back, and it's a new day."
-- Wilma Heaton, member of the commission that oversees the airport