Interior view of the large room at the Theron Nichols Safe Room.

The interior of the Theron Nichols Safe Room in Tupelo, MS, will project over 1,100 people during severe weather. The space is large, clean, and inviting.

South Industries

The Theron Nichols Safe Room is a Monolithic Dome storm shelter built by the City of Tupelo, Mississippi, after a fatal tornado outbreak in 2014. The shelters are part of an effort by the state of Mississippi to expand the number of safe rooms available to residents and especially students while attending school.

The facility meets FEMA P-361 standards for near-absolute protection and can shelter over 1,100 people during severe weather. It’s ideally located at Theron Nichols Park near Lawndale Elementary School.

The structure is a horizontal prolate ellipsoid atop a 12 foot (3.7 m) tall concrete block stem wall. The wall forms an elliptical base measuring 104 feet (31.7 m) major diameter by 83.5 feet (25.5 m) minor diameter. The Monolithic Dome is 20.5 feet (6.25 m) tall. The structure has an overall height of 32.5 feet (9.9 m).

Floor plan for Theron Nichols Safe Room.

Illustration of the simple floor with the large shelter space surrounded by storage, bathrooms, and an office. The main room is also used as a community center.

Illustration by Dave South

The interior is essentially a large room with two restrooms, an office, a drinking fountain, and storage. Everyone taking shelter either stands or sits on the floor or brings their own chairs. The doors are storm rated to protect against flying debris. There is also an onsite generator.

The city unlocks the safe room when severe weather is forecasted. Announcements are made on TV, radio, cell phones, websites, and on the media whenever the safe rooms are unlocked.

The facility also serves as a community center when not used as a safe room.

There is a twin safe room at Lee Acres plus another Monolithic Dome storm shelter used as a gymnasium for the Tupelo High School.

Exterior view of the Theron Nicholes Safe Room in Tupelo, MS.

The exterior of the Theron Nichols Safe Room is a simple, inviting design. Placed in the Theron Nichols park the safe room is easily accessed by neighboring residents and students from the nearby elementary.

South Industries