Today we continue a series based on the Mississippi entries from the 1976 document A Nation in Motion: Historic American Transportation Sites. The remaining three Mississippi entries have to do with aviation sites. If you are just joining us the background is that an informal compilation of nationally important transportation sites sprang from a 1973 suggestion by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to the United States Department of Transportation. Its purpose was not to be a definitive listing of significant transportation sites, but rather a collection of information on transportation-related sights that might be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. There were a total of five separate entries for Mississippi. We’re looking at each item to see what their status is today. This may give us some insight as to how effective this type of document is.
Mississippi 1929: Key Field Municipal Airport is located 3 miles southwest of Meridian. The airport was constructed in 1929 by the city of Meridian. In a flight from this airfield on July 1, 1935 Al and Fred Key used a Curtiss Robbin biplane to make a world record endurance flight of 653 hours, 34 minutes. The biplane, named “Ole Miss,” used to set this record, is stored in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D.C. The airport was named Key Field on November 11, 1935 in honor of the Key brothers.
MDAH has a very neat collection of films made during the Key brothers record setting endeavor at then Meridian Municipal Airport. http://mdah.state.ms.us/senseofplace/2011/07/01/aviation-in-mississippi-the-flying-keys/
The following tidbit might be of some interest to our WPA aficionado readership. According to the National Register Nomination, with funding from the WPA through the Bureau of Air Commerce, Key Field’s runway was paved and a complete airport lighting system was installed in 1937.
Outcome: Built in 1930 the Old Terminal, Hangar, and Powerhouse were listed to the National Register of Historic Places on July 7,2003. I’m doubtful this listing was spurred on by the 1976 Nation in Motion inclusion. The nomination does include a reference to a then recent “exemplary rehabilitation of the terminal/administration and hangar.” This rehabilitation netted a 2002 Mississippi Heritage Trust Preservation Award of Merit. Its possible that the listing was part of a grant project or tax credit project.
Current status: The 2003 Nomination says that the buildings were then being used as a flight training school and Cessna repair shop. While there is lots of information about Key Field on the Meridian Regional Airport webpage, I wasn’t able to find anymore recent information about the historic buildings.
This is the third of the series reviewing the Mississippi entries in the Department of Transportation’s A Nation in Motion: Historic American Transportation Sites. To see all the posts in the series click here.