Visitors flowed to Italy, Texas, from a dozen states to attend the annual Dome Tour, as the Monolithic Dome Institute swung open its doors to show how rebar and concrete domes could transform into beautiful, comfortable homes.
They came from all parts of Texas and from Southern states like Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Alabama. They spilled in from as far northwest as Washington state and from the Midwestern states of Oklahoma and Kansas. They arrived from the Buckeye State, Ohio; the home of the Hoosiers, Indiana; and the Rockies of Colorado.
“We had at least 94 people,” said Tambrin Johnson of Monolithic. “Being that it was my first Dome Tour experience, I thought it was quite lovely. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Some people saw the signs and made a U-turn on the highway, while others were researchers and people who wanted to make their own domes.”
One man from Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of the Garden of the Gods, stayed all day long. He kept coming back, saying he knew he needed to get to his next destination, but he couldn’t tear himself away.
The mayor of Italy, Texas, Bryant Cockran, and his wife, Teresa, felt the same way. “We enjoyed the Dome Tour immensely and stayed there till it was past time to close the tour down,” Mayor Cockran said. “We really enjoyed the story of the domes. We were intrigued by all of them.”
The Dome Tour included four dome homes: Charca Casa, the former residence of Monolithic Dome Institute founder David B. South; the Callisto, owned by Mike and Tessa South; the Europa, owned by Rebecca South; and Michael D. South’s Residence Due Sorelle.
“Those four homeowners opened their homes to the public,” Johnson said. “It’s very impressive and admirable for someone to open up something as close and personal to complete strangers and let them wander in their homes.”
The mayor, who owns Bryco HVAC Service in Italy, Texas, said the safety and energy efficiency of the domes particularly impressed him. A 2000-square-foot dome home requires only a ton and a half air conditioner for cooling, while a typical house would take four tons of air conditioning to achieve the same level.
“It’s a fraction of the cost,” he said. “It’s less than half. And they’ve created affordable housing.”
Just down the road from the Monolithic Dome Institute’s Research and Industrial Park, where the tour was held, there are two clusters of Monolithic Dome studio apartments—Morgan Meadows and Secret Garden Italy. These complexes have become models for affordable housing villages. Cockran said such plans could work in more rural areas of Ellis County.
“They offer affordable housing, and in a housing crisis, it definitely adds value to our community,” the Mayor said. “They have kept costs affordable for people around here, and that by itself is a blessing. They could charge more rent, but they are sticking to their values.”
A dozen people signed up for the design option with Linda Ware and Melissa DeLeon to discuss structure, engineering, and aesthetics. Kasey Montgomery provided literature and printed out floor plans of each residence. Beulah’s Bucket brought their food truck and served delicious catfish buckets with hush puppies and fries, which became an incentive for the employees working overtime on a Saturday.
At about noon, an eclipse slid through the sky, and visitors stared upward, wearing special eyewear provided by Gary Clark of Monolithic.
“Look at the ground!” he exclaimed. “Look at that shadow.”
Johnson said she was amazed to see a surreal sight. Somehow, the shadow, the sun, and the eclipse had produced the exact shape of the Monolithic logo on the ground.
“I thought the solar eclipse was the icing on top of a really great day,” Rebecca South said.