In Maryland, a triple dome home rises, named The Tatooine of Catoctin Mountains. Star Wars fans will recognize the name Tatooine as the home planet for Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker, and the first planet featured in the original film in 1977.
When Chris Hyser and his wife, Shehla, started thinking about what they wanted most in a forever home, they thought ahead to what would be most durable, practical, and comfortable for their future. The Monolithic triple dome home they imagined reflects their strong values with a touch of whimsy.
“My motto is, never start something you’re not willing to finish immediately, and always think four steps ahead,” Chris Hyser said. “We planned for old age, with walk-in tubs, and there’s not a step in the house. We ran conduits and extra tubing, thinking ahead to what we’re going to need.”
Chris can feel trouble brewing and solves problems before they happen. As a Maryland state trooper, he received the Governor’s Citation for Valor, the profession’s highest honor, and retired with honors in 2000. Working as a state trooper gave him discipline, critical thinking, and the ability to read whether someone’s genuine and how they’re going to react.
“I love to serve,” Hyser said. “I get pleasure from giving.”
His life and the lives of others often depended on his ability to read a situation accurately, respond immediately, and think ahead. For the last twenty years, he’s been a contract investigator, police trainer, police mentor, and K9 handler. He served seven tours of duty in Iraq and three tours of duty in Afghanistan, often protecting generals. What he experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan inspired him to get a master’s of divinity degree when he got home. He became a chaplain, and he’s still looking ahead.
The Hysers’ home consists of three domes. Two domes are 36 feet (11 m) in diameter and 16 feet (4.9 m) tall, with an 11-foot (3.4 m) arch where they connect. One of the double domes contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms, while the other consists of a living room and kitchen, open and inviting, with a utility closet. Natural light flows through the domes. They have two 3-foot (1 m) by 6-foot (2 m) windows in the primary bedroom, another 3-foot by 6-foot window in the living room, a 7-foot (2.1 m) by 12-foot (3.7 m) sliding glass door, and a 3-foot by 6-foot window in the kitchen. Their nearest neighbors include deer, opossums, and a black bear.
“It’s great to see the wildlife here,” Chris said. “We are about two miles from the Appalachian Trail. When I was a Boy Scout, I hiked from Susquehanna to the Potomac over ten weekends.”
The third dome is 36 feet (11 m) in diameter by 15 feet (4.6 m) tall. It connects from the main living area via a seven-foot wide, 12-foot-long (3.7 m) tunnel. It’s a three-car garage, though it currently holds two cars along with Chris’s motorcycle and tools. They have 1890 square feet (175.6 m²) of living space and a 1000 square foot (93 m²) garage.
Chris and Shehla, vice president of a timekeeping software company, cited their home in Frederick County, about ten miles from Camp David. The three-dome home also serves as a gathering place for the couple’s blended family. Together, they have four grown children and three grandchildren, ages 13, 10, and 10 months old.
“During winter, on a weekly basis, we have family dinners with whoever’s in town, and they love it here,” Chris said.
Chris started his career as an HVAC technician and has designed Data Centers, including their structure, power grid, HVAC, raised floor, fire protection and card key access. One of the things that attracted him to Monolithic Domes for the design of his permanent home was energy efficiency.
“It has about one-third the footprint on energy consumption on cooling,” he said.
Chris helps as a chaplain to the homeless community in Frederick, Maryland, and they’re looking at ways to create a sustainable community of affordable homes. Chris said he thought a community of Monolithic Dome homes could be an attractive option.
“High winds cross the mountains, and strong winds come through here,” he said. “We’re looking at ways of making homes safer.”
The project’s in its planning phase, and they’re looking for donor land in the city, close to social services and bus routes. Chris lived in a trailer with a shared bathroom when he served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he wants some different, more durable options for affordable housing. Most of all, he wants to make things safer and better, not only for himself and his family and community but also for his district, his state, and the country.
“Something must be done in order to stop the fabric of our society from ripping further apart,” Chris says.
Chris and Shehla have lived in their new place for a little over a year. Chris jests that his wife encourages him to run for Congress so he won’t start building another house.
“I like to keep busy,” he said. “I hope my next chapter will be a seat in Congress.”
He’s running for Congress in Maryland District 6, in a diverse community that includes parts of urban Montgomery County and rural Garrett County, plus Allegany, Frederick, and Washington Counties.
“I’m fed up with political tensions,” he said. “It’s like people no longer listen to each other, and we need to listen to solve the problems that face us. As a chaplain, I know how to sit down and listen. I believe in less taxation and a small government, but I don’t care who sponsors a bill, Democrat or Republican. If they want to help benefit my district and my state, I will sit down with them.”
In their triple-dome home, Chris and Shehla blend their lives together seamlessly. Their peaceful oasis at the Tatooine of Catoctin Mountains gives them the strength to rise up for the work they want to do.
“We love it here,” Chris said. “It’s an area to unwind, relax, and chill. We all need self-care in life in order to be able to deal with all the other stuff.”