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Kansas Aviation Museum

350 George Washington Blvd
Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, 67210

Kansas Aviation Museum
Photo: License: CC0 1.0
The Kansas Aviation Museum is located in Wichita, Kansas, near 31st South and George Washington Blvd. The building was the former Wichita Municipal Airport terminal from 1935 to 1954.
The Park Board purchased 640 acres (2.6 km2) in 1928 and, with Glen Thomas as architect, started the building on July 1, 1930, but construction soon halted due to the Great Depression and lack of funds. The building sat uncompleted until 1933 when construction resumed as a WPA project. The opening dedication ceremony took place on Sunday March 31, 1935. The runways were paved in the late 1930s as a WPA project.

During World War II the airport became the fourth busiest in the United States being a convenient stop off in the middle of the US and with the endless flight testing of tens of thousands of aircraft being built in Wichita for the War effort. The additions on the east and west end of the building were added in 1942 and 1943. The upper part of the control tower was added in 1940. It was the first control tower to have slanted windows.

After the Air Force left in 1984, the building sat empty and partially gutted for at least six years until the Kansas Aviation Museum was formed in 1990 and began work.

The architecture of the building is art deco with its strong and obvious geometric shapes and sharp angles. At the front above the triple doors to the lobby is the famous Bas-relief of the Spirit of St.Louis crossing the Atlantic with Ireland in sight. A bas-relief sculpture is raised or sunken and not a flat piece of artwork. Carthalite was used to for the bas-relief to provide longevity and maintain the color vitality. Carthalite is white portland cement concrete with colored glass aggregates.

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