Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Tulsa Air and Space Museum

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Tulsa Air and Space Museum

Article excerpt

Architect Frederick Vance Kershner left Tulsa a legacy of memorable art deco structures, from survivors like the Oklahoma Natural Gas Building and the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building to the demolished Union Bus Depot and Tulsa Municipal Airport Administration Building. But the essence of his aviation hub lives on in the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

The museum construction and exhibits demonstrate not only the artistic work behind Kershner's airport terminal, but the workhorse metal shed that served Tulsa's first working airport and the familiar curved environment of its first city-owned hangar.

"The reason this whole property started was to honor the rich aviation heritage in Tulsa, much of that driven by oil," said museum curator Kim Jones.

The air and space museum opened a decade ago in a now-70-year- old hangar borrowed from the Spartan School of Aviation. That 14,000- square-foot temporary home inspired museum staffers planning a permanent home.

"In the beginning we actually thought about moving the original hangar," said Jones, who first started working with the museum in 1998. "But the costs proved too great."

Opened in 1928 at what would, for a short time, become the world's busiest airport, the amenities in that original hangar made it a prized stopover for many legendary aviators, including Charles Lindberg, Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Doolittle. The hangar maintained that status into World War II, when airport advances led officials to expand its length.

That came back to haunt a museum crew contemplating saving and moving the age-threatened structure.

"The poured concrete came up over the upright steel members," said Jones, author of two books on northeastern Oklahoma aviation. "We would have had to jackhammer that floor out of there."

The metal also showed extensive corrosion, including some under the concrete.

"We would have had to replace 60 percent of the structure due to age," he said.

That led the museum planners to consider salvaging parts of the 1928 hangar, such as its massive doors or window frames. And that introduced them to the problems of lead remediation. …

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