|Ron Cole's original painting, depicting the old Port Columbus TAT Hangar as it appeared in 1929|
The Columbus Landmarks Foundation lists it as one of the most endangered historic buildings in Columbus, Ohio. Built in 1929 and in part designed by Charles Lindbergh, it originally served to house and maintain a fleet of Ford-built Trimotor commercial transports. The Trimotor, along with Henry Ford's Model T automobile, are regarded as among the most important early industrial achievements of 20th Century America. But, while the old hangar still stands, unlike nearly all others built around that same time period across the country - its days may be numbered.
|The old hangar - standing but empty|
In 2016 I was asked to paint the old hangar as it appeared in its former glory. As is often the case when trying to reconstruct how something looked from very old black and white photographs, it was hard to visualize at first. Details were very fuzzy; colors somewhat unknown. But over time it came together, and what was reborn on my canvas was strikingly beautiful; not a perfunctory structure with a purely commercial purpose, but a work of art that perfectly demonstrated the architectural tastes of its time.
|Port Columbus TAT hangar c. 1930|
|By 1941, Port Columbus's first hangar had new clients|
When I first began the process of physically painting, the old hangar had a local sponsor interested in its complete restoration. That, regrettably, fell through, and thus the original pretext for the painting fell with it. But, I completed the project with the idea in mind that, perhaps, it might serve an even more important and time-sensitive purpose now: to raise awareness of this unique piece of early American commercial aviation architecture and help save it from destruction. There are few examples like her anywhere in the United States, none other in Columbus, Ohio, and none, arguably, as beautiful.
Contact me to be added to a growing list of patrons interested in seeing this building preserved and ultimately restored. I'm also offering limited edition prints of my painting through my Cole's Aircraft online store and in person through my Zanesville, Ohio art gallery, with proceeds going towards preservation efforts.
April 11, 2017