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Lakefront Airport Restored To Art Deco Glory Days

Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Agency

Lakefront Airport has been restored to its Art Deco glory days. A $20 million restoration has left the terminal looking as Huey Long once left it.

In its heyday in the 1930s and 40s, Lakefront Airport was buzzing with activity. It was used by the US Army Air Force during World War II.

Commercial airlines then shifted to what is now Louis Armstrong International Airport, and Lakefront catered to private aviation.

It also became a bomb shelter in the 1960s, complete with concrete panels attached to the terminal.

Then came Hurricane Katrina, and it was flooded.

With money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the office now in charge of the airport (called the Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority), Lakefront is now restored.

92-year-old Louis Soroe of New Orleans attended the re-dedication ceremony over the weekend.

Senior project manager Walter Davis and architect Paul Dimitrios overheard Soroe talking about the building when it was new.

“Did we do a good job?” Davis asked.

“Oh, wonderful,” Soroe said.

“Somebody said that they remembered it years and years ago and when they walked in it looked like it did. And that was the biggest compliment I heard today," Davis said.

“It’s magnificent. Go inside, you know," Soroe said. "It’s just beautiful.”  

Fred Pruitt is director of aviation at Lakefront Airport. He says private planes still use Lakefront, but commercial service has returned with Southern Airways Express, flying to eight Southern cities.

“It would be nice to have a small commuter airline, but with the runway links that we have here, we will never see a large air service here,” Pruitt said.

He says Lakefront’s runways are almost 2500 feet too short for major airlines.

Lakefront is now looking for office tenants and operators for its historic Walnut Room event space.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.