A yearlong renovation project at California’s oldest airport officially began this week.
The historic terminal at Long Beach Airport will undergo major renovations over the next several months, including earthquake retrofitting and restoration that will bring the 1941 building back to its original glory.
The terminal has undergone some renovation work while it remained partially open to the public, but the remainder of the final work will be completed during a full closure.
The building will get a seismic retrofitting to protect the structure and keep it in line with California’s earthquake standards, but the rest of the work will be changes you can see with your eyes.
The terminal will receive restroom renovations and other infrastructure improvements, and the building’s original Art Deco designs will be restored and refurbished for an entirely new generation.
Included in the renovation work is the restoration of the terminal’s west entrance, which has been closed for several decades.
Once completed, the first floor will become a dedicated space for rental car customer service, which is currently located in temporary structures. Airport administration will be moved to the second floor.
“The Historic Terminal is the crown jewel of the Airport campus, and we look forward to restoring it to its former glory,” said Airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “We are committed to preserving the building’s timeless look and feel for travelers to enjoy well into the future.”
The Long Beach Airport will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in November. The historic terminal opened two decades after the airport, but its journey to its grand opening was filled with delays from world-changing events
The terminal was designed by local architects, William Horace Austin and Kenneth Smith Wing, and a groundbreaking was held on Jan. 11, 1941.
The building was set to open to the public months later on Dec. 8, 1941, but the grand opening was delayed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just a day prior.
Commercial flights were then canceled, which led to the building being painted in camouflage and converted into storage for military equipment and lodging for soldiers.
The terminal finally opened for its intended use in April 1942. It was declared a Historic Landmark by Long Beach Cultural Heritage Commission in 1990.
“The building bridges the transition from the Streamline Moderne style of the 1930s to the geometric abstraction of the post-war International Style. Among the finishing touches on the Historic Terminal is a mosaic masterwork by artist Grace Clements, who incorporated 1.6 million hand-cut tiles in 32 colors that adorn the first and second floors,” a press release from the airport reads.
Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson called the historic terminal one of the city’s “most beloved architectural icons.”
The $17.8 million renovation project is expected to be completed by early 2024. The restoration is part of a greater $110 million project that has already seen the construction of a new ticketing lobby and checked bag inspection system. The airport is currently in the process of constructing a new baggage claim.
“These improvements represent our commitment to preserve its history for generations to come,” Richardson said.