This Day in Milwaukee County History: The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors officially renames Mitchell Field to General Mitchell International Airport on June 19, 1986.
The original airfield was completed in 1920 by the name of Hamilton Airport by business owner Thomas Hamilton. Eventually the land was transferred over to the County, and the airfield was renamed the Milwaukee County Airport. The airport’s first passenger terminal constructed in 1940, and less than a year later it was renamed General Mitchell Field after Milwaukee native Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell.
During World War II, Mitchell Field was leased to the War Department for use as a prisoner-of-war camp. Over 3,000 prisoners and 250 enlisted men were housed at the work camp. Escaped German prisoners were often surprised to find the largest German population outside of their home country just beyond the camp’s fence.
The airport’s present terminal first opened on July 20, 1955 and was designed by Leigh Fisher and Associates. It was renovated and expanded significantly in 1985, just prior to its renaming.