Historic Surplus Property Case Studies

These featured case studies describe historic federal properties that have been transferred under the Historic Surplus Property Program and how local communities find innovative new uses for the buildings.

    Featured Case Study: Kansas Aviation Museum

    Iconic Aviation Museum Soars to New Heights as Museum

Exterior view of the building.

Exterior view of the building. Photo courtesy Kansas Aviation Museum.

A historic image of the building and a modern interior view.

By 1929 Wichita had 11 firms engaged in aircraft manufacturing and boasted production of 25% of the country’s aircraft. This set the stage for the construction of Wichita’s Municipal Airport terminal, which is one of the largest examples of Art Deco architecture to survive in South Central Kansas. Construction activity on the building commenced in 1930 and was completed in 1943 when flanking wings were added. Aviation luminaries of the day Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart graced the facility with their presence, as did celebrities such as Fred Astaire and Howard Hughes. In 1951 the airport was sold to the Federal government and renamed Wichita Air Force Base, which subsequently became McConnell Air Force Base. By 1984 the building, which had housed administrative functions for the Air Force base, was no longer needed.

In 1990 under the Historic Surplus Property Program, the building was transferred to the City of Wichita, which in turn leased it to the Kansas Aviation Museum’s Board of Trustees. In 2005 The Kansas Aviation Museum completed a $900,000 exterior restoration project, which included uncovering the grand front entrance, reopening the viewing deck and restoring the windows. Work is currently underway on the interior. The museum houses a world-class collection of significant aircraft, an extensive aviation archive and additional memorabilia. For more information, please visit the National Park Service’s National Register Travel Itinerary, and the Kansas Aviation Museum.

Images at right—Top: Historic view of the building. Image courtesy Kansas Aviation Museum. Below: The lobby of the museum. Photo by NPS Midwest Regional Office.