Gifts can come in all sorts of ways... as boxes wrapped colorfully in paper and bows, as positive words of praise and affirmation or possibly as a monetary gift. I bet you can still close your eyes and vividly see a gift that you received during your childhood. How about a time someone said something so nice about you that it touched your heart? Did a family member or loved one give generously financially to you on a special occasion? Yes, gifts are given in many ways. Most times they are given individually, but sometimes many people can benefit, especially when it comes in the form of a community gift. In 2016, Ohioans of both land and air received a gift of sorts from the city of Mansfield at the Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport.

Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport covers nearly 2,400 acres and offers two asphalt runways, one heliport and a terminal building, and is home to the 179th Ohio National Guard Wing. It is owned and operated by the city of Mansfield and is named after Mansfield native Frank Purdy Lahm. Frank Lahm was an American aviation pioneer, the “nation’s first military aviator” and general officer in the US Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces. It is a busy public-use airport with a military presence, and its terminal greets many pilots and guests each year. The terminal building was built in 1985, and while kept in excellent repair, had not had any major decorative changes or renovations in 30 years. In 2016, the collaborative efforts of the city, state and private sector found them able to update and furnish the terminal building.

First, a team from Mansfield partnered with J.P. Finnegan Construction from Shelby, Ohio, who originally built the terminal in 1985, and also with locally owned J&B Acoustical to update the interior of the spaces, such as ceiling, flooring, wallcoverings, counters and desks. Materials were chosen not only for their durability, but also to blend with the architectural aspects of the building. Once renovations were underway, it was time to choose furniture and accessories. Senior Designer Audrey Lunsford and I met with the team to discuss how the areas would be used, to work on a plan to highlight the history of Lahm Airport, and to provide comfortable seating for guests and pilots. We were amazed when the group walked in with vintage wooden propellers for us to use and were delighted to see the many displays and artifacts that we could incorporate back into the renovated spaces!

In keeping with the initiatives to work with and buy from local companies, Audrey and I chose all of the upholstered furnishings from Ohio-based Norwalk Furniture, which produces handcrafted custom furniture 35 miles north of Mansfield. Comfortable sofas and chairs were chosen in warm-colored textured fabrics and faux leathers that resemble bomber jacket leather. The main section of the terminal was set up with areas for television watching, refreshment enjoyment and boarding area seating. Two separate rooms were furnished for the pilots — one room as an office for calculating flight plans, and one room as a quiet room for rest and sleep. Comfortable Norwalk Furniture multi-positional press back chairs with ottomans allow pilots of any size and height to rest comfortably between flights while guests enjoy the terminal amenities.

Along with the historical artifacts, Audrey was able to find and decorate the walls with a metal airplane sculpture and several aeronautical photos and prints as well. Wooden tables, a glass-top table with dining chairs, lamps and accessories finished the new look, while antique aeronautical treasures paid respect to all that once was.

A beautifully remodeled and decorated terminal building awaits fly-in visitors at the Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport thanks to the efforts of many Ohioans who are appreciative of those who worked hard to bring an airport to north central Ohio and for those whom continue to benefit from its existence.

Now that’s what I call... decorating for both land and sky!