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HIDDEN GEM: 1940 Air Terminal Museum

What was Houston's first airport is now a museum that transports visitors through aviation history.

HOUSTON — Who remembers the golden age of air travel, complete with glamorous outfits and gourmet meals?

"It was quite an event for people to get to do that," says Maggie Brown.

From 1940 to 1955, that event got off the ground at what is now the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.

"It started out as the first airport in Houston. It was the terminal building, so it was kind of like the original Hobby," says Brown, the museum's executive director. "People would come into the atrium and get their tickets and go out and get on the plane."

Today, the museum gives visitors a chance to explore what things were like in that era.

"The office here, we have all of our modern 1940 equipment," Brown says, gesturing to the rotary phone, typewriter and Dictaphone. "It’s nice for young people to come in and see what life was like back then and just tell the story of what people were experiencing in 1940." 

Visitors to the museum can also take a tour of one of the planes of the era, a Lockheed Lodestar.  

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Along with permanent exhibits, it features temporary shows, like Fashion Takes Flight.

"It tells the story of the evolution of the flight attendant/stewardess uniforms from about 1950 to the early 2000s," explains Brown. "You can see the story of not only the fashion change, but kind of the role that women played in a professional environment, especially aviation."

All of that is housed inside the art deco building, which opened in 1940 and was designed by Joseph Finger, the same man who designed Houston’s City Hall.

"It’s very timeless, so you can really take some beautiful pictures," says events manager Juan Ortiz, adding that the museum hosts everything from weddings to dinners to car shows and more. "The third Saturday of each month is kind of our open house day. It’s where we invite the community to explore and check out the exhibits."

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When asked whether enough people know about this gem, hidden right off the runway of Hobby Airport, Brown laughs: "No, not at all."

Now you do, so consider this your invitation to visit this piece of Houston history.

"So we can be here for another 80 years!" adds Ortiz.

For more information about the museum, including information and hours, click here.

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Do you have a hidden gem we should check out? Let us know by emailing Brandi Smith at bsmith@khou.com!

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