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Original Port Columbus Air Terminal To Serve As New Home
The recently established non-profit, Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Museum (OAS), announced that it has signed a long term lease with the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) for the original 1929 Port Columbus air terminal and tower, a rare architectural treasure located at 4920 East Fifth Avenue, at John Glenn International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio.
The State of Ohio appropriated a $550,000 grant toward OAS’s estimated $2 million cost of renovating the 12,000 square-foot-plus, Art Deco-style air terminal, which has been in disuse for nearly fifteen years despite being on the National Register of Historic Places. In May the OAS received its first private grant, $20,000 from the Hillsdale Fund, a North Carolina-based family foundation. The lease-signing is integral to a multi-million dollar fundraising effort by OAS, which has an initial goal of raising another $550,000 to double the matching funds required by the state to release the grant. Once the building’s three stories and control tower are renovated, the air terminal and surrounding 1.7 acres will be a civic showpiece. With its interior configured as the home of the OAS when it opens in late 2021, OAS will offer free-to-the-public exhibits honoring Ohio’s air and space pioneers, house research archives and a STEAM education center, and offer catered rentable meeting and event spaces.
The original air terminal was constructed to serve as the eastern terminus of Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), one of America’s first commercial airlines and the first to offer coast-to-coast service. The site for the terminal, named Port Columbus, had been personally selected in 1928 by Charles Lindbergh, then TAT’s Technical Committee Chairman. Dedicated with much fanfare in July 1929, the structure served as the Port Columbus air terminal until 1958, when a modern terminal was built on the site of what is currently the John Glenn International Airport. TAT was in business for 16 months, ultimately merging into what became Trans World Airlines (TWA).
The historic air terminal was saved and re-purposed the first time in the 1980s’ when former US Navy and North American Aviation test pilot, Ed Gillespie, leased and renovated it into office space. Unoccupied again in the late 1990s, the terminal fell into disrepair. In 2014 a group of concerned citizens and heritage organizations formed Preserve Original Columbus Air Terminal (POCAT) to save the terminal again
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