11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Mitchell Park Domes
A beloved Milwaukee institution for generations, a unique engineering marvel, and a nationally significant example of Midcentury Modern architecture, the Milwaukee Domes have been a center of community life and a tourism destination for more than 50 years.
In 1958, Milwaukee architect Donald Grieb won a national design competition for the Domes, which were constructed between 1959 and 1967. His design featured three domes (The Show Dome, the Tropical Dome, and the Arid Dome) which contain a vast array of flora that one observer called “a zoo for plants.” First Lady Lady Bird Johnson officially dedicated the Show Dome at its opening ceremony in 1965.
“Rather than needlessly sacrifice this unique national treasure, local leaders owe it to the public to continue to explore a solution that preserves the Domes for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.”National Trust President and CEO, Stephanie Meeks
In addition to their stunning architectural features, the structures are marvels of modern engineering, featuring the world’s first “conoidal”—or cone-shaped—domes. They remain the only glass conoidal domes in the world in use as conservatories.
After a small piece of concrete was found on the floor of one of the Domes early in 2016, leadership of Milwaukee County—which owns the Domes— temporarily closed the building to the public. The County estimates that it would cost as much as $70 million to repair the domes. Key county officials have said that demolition of the Domes could be an option. The County has begun a planning process to consider the future of the Domes, and local supporters of the Domes are advocating that this process be community-based, transparent, and fully explore all alternatives that would preserve the Domes.
The National Trust’s experience championing Modernist resources, and ability to communicate with a national network of people who are passionate about this style of architecture, can help the community identify a preservation solution for the Domes.
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The 2016 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has been revealed.Explore the List