The public will soon get its first chance to see Long Beach Airport’s newly renovated Historic Terminal — and a fully restored tile mosaic installed in 1941 that had been hidden by carpet for decades.

The $17.8 million project includes a new baggage claim area, concession area, seismic upgrades, and the restoration of a tile mosaic comprised of roughly 1.6 million hand-cut pieces that depict a flight route map, a hand dialing a rotary telephone, maritime-themed art, oil wells and an emblem of the city’s incorporation.

Less than a year ago, experts working on the restoration discovered a few new hidden vignettes, including a sailboat, several fish and a propeller plane.

Workers carefully clean the tiles in a mosaic of an old prop plane, uncovered as part of a Long Beach Airport restoration project. Photo courtesy of Long Beach Airport.

The mosaic was created by artist Grace Clements, who was 28 at the time and died in 1969. She was hired through the Work Projects Administration (also called the Works Progress Administration, or WPA) to create the federally funded floor mosaic and several murals prior to the terminal’s opening in 1941.

The terminal building, which has been closed for over a year during the renovation, was designed by renowned architects William Horace Austin and Kenneth Smith Wing and is known for its Streamline Moderne style.

Officials said last year that the terminal would be adorned with period-appropriate furniture and fixtures from the Art Deco/Streamline Moderne period.

The original clock has also been restored by professionals, and interpretive plaques will be installed to explain the building’s historic elements.

Artist Grace Clements kneels to place a tile in a mosaic she designed on the floor of the Long Beach Airport’s historic terminal in 1942. Photo courtesy of Long Beach Airport.

The historic terminal officially opened in April 1942. It had been slated to open Dec. 8, 1941, but that was delayed after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The $17.8 million renovation is part of a larger, $125 million effort to improve the airport.

The project was approved in 2018, but work was delayed after the COVID-19 pandemic cut into the airport’s revenue.

The larger project includes a 30-foot-wide video board, upgraded restrooms, new infrastructure to allow skycaps to perform curbside check-in, customized bench seating in the airport’s plaza and the installation of terrazzo flooring to match the flooring of a new ticketing lobby that opened in 2022.

The city is hosting an open house of the historic building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27. It will include history tours, music, children’s activities, giveaways and light refreshments. Three hours of free parking is available in Parking Structure B.