Happy 4th of July! Hello Georgetown! Happy 4th of July! This year won't be a traditional 4th of July. There won't be a fireworks show in many areas, no hometown celebrations, no festivals. I do … Read More...
Historic Masonic Building Getting a New Onion Dome
By Rob Hipp
The Historic Masonic Building in Georgetown is getting a new onion dome. If you happened to be on the downtown Georgetown square Thursday it would have been nearly impossible to miss the action. A lane of traffic on Main Street was blocked from East 7th to East 8th street as a crane was parked. That crane carefully plucked and removed the “onion dome” from high atop the historic building.
The first dome, probably made of copper, went missing from the historical record in 1917, according to the building’s current owner since 2001, Chris Damon. The dome that was removed on Thursday is the second in the building’s history. It first appeared in 1985 and was manufactured by Campbellsville Industries, located in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Mr. Damon stated Laura Weir Clark, who was the previous owner of the Historic Masonic Building, passed an onion dome while sitting in a pasture in Kentucky. She located Campbellsville Industries and talked to them, and was able to recreate the dome from photographs of the original. The company is still in business today and will fabricate the third dome.
“We’ve been looking for something like it in Texas. There are maybe one or two other buildings in the state that have onion domes”, stated Mr. Damon when asked about the dome’s uniqueness. “The dome anchors the Georgetown square. It’s unique and distinctive, like Georgetown. It’s iconic to the square, and presides over it”.
After being dinged by hailstones and the elements for over 30 years, it’s time for a new dome. It’s not waterproof, made of sheet metal, and the pedestal it sits on leaks and has caused wood rot and roof damage.
Mr. Damon continued, “The dome is a very common architectural element in Europe on churches. I think the original inspiration for the one in Georgetown came from the Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem. Nobody wrote it down, but it’s a common guess. We are now stewards of the building.”
The replacement is part of a larger exterior renovation that includes a new roof system, paint, and other improvements. A total of eleven air conditioning units on the roof make the replacement complicated. Factor in duct work, electrical and condensation lines, and other various piping and this isn’t your ordinary roof job.
Building tenant Denise Page of Gumbo’s North on the Square shared her thought’s about the building and dome. “The dome is part of history, without it, it’s not the same building. Moving to this building is the best thing we ever did. We wished we would have moved our business here years before we actually did.”
Gumbo’s will undergo renovations as well in the building including new carpeting, paint, and solid wood tables.
As far as the old dome that was just removed, Mr. Damon is still trying to figure out what to do with it. With a metal framework interior and sheet metal skin, the estimated weight of the onion dome is around 1,000 to 2,000 pounds. “It’s really big, heavy and awkward” Mr. Damon stated. It is expensive to move, as it takes a semi truck and crane. For now, the dome will sit on property owned by a contractor. Some possible ideas as to what to do with the dome include a raffle that would benefit charity.
The new onion dome is expected to be completed in time for POPPtober Fest (rescheduled from Red Poppy Fest) on October 23rd. There may be plans for a “dome raising” party.