More than 350 people turned out when the Friends of the New Orleans Lakefront Airport held a fundraiser recently to help preserve and restore the Xavier Gonzales murals at the airport.
The murals, created in 1938, were covered completely with concrete and steel in the 1950s, when the Art Deco building was transformed into a nuclear fallout shelter. Each of the eight murals depicts a location visited by aviation pioneers in the 1920s and ’30s: Paris, Egypt, Rio de Janeiro, the South Pole, the land of the Mayas, Bali, Mount Everest and New York.
Historian and author Vincent Caire, architect Alton O. Davis and art conservator Elise Grenier were on hand to talk to guests about the history and recent restoration of the Art Deco airport and the process of recovering and restoring the murals.
Music was provided by David Hansen’s Garden District Jazz Quartet with catering by Messina’s at the Terminal.
Among those at the Save the Murals fundraiser were Eric Strachan and his mother, Camille Strachan of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Wilma Heaton, Winnie Byrd of the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation and Sandra Stokes of the Louisiana Landmarks Society and the Foundation for Historical Louisiana; Robert LeBreton and his mother, Gladys LeBreton, who flew out of Lakefront Airport in 1936; Jim Robinson; Barry Cooper; Tim and Juliet Laughlin; Sue and Paul Klein; state Rep. Walt Leger; Nyka Scott; Clancy Dubos; Jim Tucker; New Orleans City Council Jared Brossett; Wilma Heaton and New Orleans City Councilman James Gray.