LGB’s Historic Terminal will close for a year-long renovation involving a major retrofit and restoration of many of its classic 1941 design elements.

Preliminary renovation efforts began while the Historic Terminal was partially open to the public, but its full closure is necessary to complete the renovation, Long Beach Airport’s operator said. In addition to the retrofit, significant project elements include improvements to the bathrooms and building infrastructure, and restoration of covered mosaic tiles and other Art Deco design elements, including the iconic west entrance, which has been closed for decades.

Passenger check-in moved to the new ticketing lobby in May 2022, and the airport administration, badging and dispatch offices are relocating to the Nuspace Building on the airport campus at 4401 East Donald Douglas Drive. After the renovation, the first floor will be dedicated to rental car customer service functions, currently located in temporary mobile units. Airport administration will return 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 travellers to enjoy well into the future.”

Expected to re-open in early 2024, the $17.8m renovation of the Historic Terminal is the fourth project in the $110m Phase II – Terminal Area Improvement Program. As part of that, two major components were completed in the spring of 2022, including the new ticketing lobby and checked baggage inspection system (CBIS) facility. A new baggage claim is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the coming months.

A piece of history

Designed by William Horace Austin and Kenneth Smith Wing, the ground breaking for the Historic Terminal took place on January 11, 1941, with the building scheduled to open on December 8 of that year. The Pearl Harbor attack on December 7 delayed the opening, led to the cancellation of all commercial flights and resulted in the building being painted in camouflage and used as lodging for soldiers and military equipment. The formal opening occurred on April 25, 1942.

Declared a historic landmark in 1990 by Long Beach’s Cultural Heritage Commission, 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 by artist Grace Clements involving 1.6 million hand-cut tiles in 32 colours.

California’s oldest airport, Long Beach will celebrate its 100th anniversary on November 26, 2023.

Image: Long Beach Airport