Bowles-Airport (demolished) Development – Agawam MA


The Works Progress Administration (WPA), in conjunction with the War Department, developed a “municipal airport” in Agawam, Massachusetts. Living New Deal believes that the airport in question is most likely Bowles-Agawam Airport, a facility with a fascinating history that involved multiple openings, layouts, and closures.

WPA project details:
“Improve municipal airport”
Official Project Number: 165‐1‐14‐539
Total project cost: $427,950.00
Sponsor: War Department

Source notes

Nationwide Context, Inventory, and Heritage Assessment of Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps Resources on Department of Defense Installations, July 2009 (page C-74).

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on February 13, 2018.

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Location Info

Bowles Rd.
Agawam, MA

Coordinates: 42.056957, -72.65734

2 comments on “Bowles-Airport (demolished) Development – Agawam MA

  1. Matt Lawlor

    Bowles-Agawam Airport was not a WPA project nor a War Dept. Airfield. The Airport was built in 1928-1930 by former US congressman Henry Bowles and a group of private investors. It was dedicated May 30th, 1930 by then former President Calvin Coolidge. The airport was popular for the first few years of existence, used by the Granville Brothers and Bob Hall to built and test racing planes that competed in the 1931 and 1932 National Air Races. The airport usage declined by 1935 when it was sold at foreclosure to a group who built a horse racing track on the site. The track “Agawam Park” operated between Oct. 1,1935 until November of 1938 when it was closed following the outlawing of gambling in Hampden County. The site remained mostly abandoned through the 40’s as the town of Agawam battled with the tracks former owners over outstanding property tax. There were two separate examinations of the property by the WPA and War Dept. in the 1940’s but both times it was decided that nothing should be done to the site. Partially because the ownership of the property was still being contested in the MA courts, and partially because there were already military facilities at Bradley Airport and Westover Airbase nearby. 1947 the town was granted control of the site, performed some renovations including new runways and leased out spaces in the former airport and racetrack buildings to flight schools, machine shops and other aviation companies. It was sold to a private owner in 1958. Bowles-Agawam airport was used for a time by the civil air patrol in the 1960’s but mostly housed privately owned planes until 1980 when the town bought the property and closed the airport in favor of using the land as an industrial park.

  2. Somewhere in the winter of 1983, my then boss flew into Bowles in a small Piper from Norwood MA. He asked me to pick him up at “the main terminal building”, which I naively looked for, and he found it very amusing. So I am at the airfield, which looked totally abandoned, not maintained, with a sketchy runway, and in he lands. He parked off to a grassy side. I don’t recall any tie downs. It appeared to me that he knew the airport was out of business, but that he could still land there. I dropped him off in the afternoon, and it was cool watching him perform his flight checks and taking off. Again there was not a soul in sight.

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