As passengers walked briskly by to make their flights at the newly built Santa Barbara Airport terminal on Wednesday, a group gathered just yards away to celebrate the history of the older terminal, which has been preserved and reopened as a monument to the past.
The terminal, much beloved by locals as a quaint gateway to the South Coast, was constructed in 1942 and restored to its original architecture last year. A new 72,000-square-foot terminal opened to the public in 2011, and stakeholders are continuing to weigh in on the airport’s master plan.
About 150 people gathered Wednesday morning to gather with local dignitaries to cut the ribbon on the newly restored structure.
Bruce Miller, chairman of the Santa Barbara Airport Commission, expressed thanks to all involved in the project, calling it “a true architectural treasure.”
Before the project was done, “people would say, ‘I love the terminal that way it is,’” he said, but they wanted basic updates such as restrooms on the other side of the security gate.
More than 728,000 passengers passed through the airport last year, and numbers are on the rise, according to Mayor Helene Schneider.
After a long journey, “you just know you’re home” when landing at the airport, she said.
Gavin Malloy of United Airlines, which is the largest carrier out of SBA, was also on hand to speak, as well as Michelle Zimney, chapter president of the U.S. Green Building Council, who briefed the audience on the LEED Gold certification that the building has been awarded.
It took nearly two weeks to move the old terminal 180 feet from its former location to where it sits now, according to airport director Karen Ramsdell.
Ramsdell also briefed the audience on the history of Earle Ovington, a Santa Barbara resident who piloted the first airmail flight and for whom the historic terminal was dedicated in the 1960s. He was an aeronautical engineer and aviator who advocated for a commercial airport in the region.
“Earle Ovington, your vision is realized,” Ramsdell said.