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Van Nuys hangar from ‘Casablanca’ may be restored at last

The facade is all that’s left of the former airport building.

Screencap of Los Angeles Daily News video
via L.A. Daily News

Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Van Nuys Airport Hangar No. 1, which appeared in an opening scene of the classic 1942 film Casablanca, is long gone—demolished in 2007 to make way for development. But its facade—the 95-foot wooden doors and the arch above them—was preserved by Christine Dunn and her late husband, Jim Dunn, film buffs and founders of the nearby Airtel Plaza Hotel.

Now, Christine Dunn said the facade that has languished in the sun for the last 10 years may be going to a new home.

Tommy Gelinas, founder of Valley Relics Museum in Chatsworth, has offered to take ownership to restore it and incorporate it into a new building at Van Nuys Airport, where it may become part of a Moroccan-themed restaurant at the new Propellor Park, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

"It's all there," Christine Dunn told the Daily News. "It's all original. This is it. This is what's left. ... It needs a home."

The facade is all that's left of the hangar, which in 1928 was the first building erected at what would become Van Nuys Airport.

The hangar once served vintage barnstormers and was home to the Holga Metal Products Corp. It also appeared in several films and TV shows, the Daily News reported in 2008.

A screengrab from “Casablanca” showing the hangar at Van Nuys Airport.

It is perhaps most famous for appearing briefly in Casablanca as Major Strasser's plane lands at the film's start.

Contrary to popular belief, it does not appear in the final farewell scene between Humphrey Bogart's Rick and Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa, which was filmed largely at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. (An added bit of trivia: Casablanca began production exactly 75 years ago Thursday, May 25, 1942.)

Laurel and Hardy also shot part of their 1939 comedy The Flying Deuces in the hangar.

"It's such an iconic piece of history," Gelinas told the Daily News. He added: "It needs to be resurrected and immortalized ... at Van Nuys Airport."