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Norfolk Regional Airport – Karl Stefan Memorial Field
Karl Stefan Memorial Airport is located approximately three miles south of the business district of Norfolk. This public airport played an important role in the development of regional aviation and was the headquarters of “Operation Snowbound,” which air-dropped supplies to rural populations during the winter blizzard of 1948–1949. Karl Stefan, for whom the airport is named, was born in Zebrakov, Bohemia (now Czech Republic), and immigrated with his parents to Omaha in 1885, a year after his birth; he moved to Norfolk in 1909. Stefan became a local newspaper editor and radio announcer, and served in the United States Congress from 1935 until his death in 1951.
The Streamlined Moderne administration building is approached via a tree-lined drive. The original portion of the building, built in 1946, is a poured concrete structure measuring 92 feet long by 40 feet wide. It has a cross-plan with a two-story tower demarcating the crossing. The tower is inscribed with “Norfolk Airport” above the doors and, above the second-story windows, abstract wings with space for a clock that was never installed. In typical streamlined fashion, it has a flat-roof and all of the building’s corners, including the parapets, are curved. Its principal facade on the east is composed of horizontal and vertical scored lines and alternating circular and rectilinear fenestrations. Three-pane windows light the one-story wings of the building’s western face and wrap the curved corners of the building.
The central lobby of the administration building is entered via covered glass doors from its eastern facade. A cafe, kitchen, and utility closet were originally located in the southern wing, while the northern wing held an airport office, spaces for the U.S. Weather Bureau, and restrooms. The second story was historically used as a meeting room for the airport authority and as an observation area.
Renovations to the interior include the reconfiguration of its functions and the introduction of drop-ceilings and entry vestibules on the east and west, though the terrazzo flooring on the first floor and the original stairs remain. Due to a lack of space, in 1977 a concrete addition resembling the older structure was built on the north side of the building.
Ebeling, Mary R., and Christina Slattery, “Karl Stefan Memorial Airport Administration Building,” Madison County, Nebraska. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 2001. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.
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