Vista Dhome For Sale: Barry Braswell Reflects on the Legacy of His Legendary Monolithic Dome Home

Vista Dhome.

Vista Dhome was the dream home of Dr. Al and Ruth Braswell. Now up for sale, their son, Barry Braswell, has remodeled the interior.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

A Beautiful View.

The breakfast table in the Braswell’s massive kitchen.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Barry Braswell remembers the joy that filled Vista Dhome that first Christmas with his folks after construction was completed on their new Monolithic Dome home on 40 acres of San Bernardino Mountain foothills in Yucaipa, California.

“We were together, and we were so happy,” he said. “I had built my father’s dream home with my uncle. We had more to do—with a home, there’s always plenty to do—but we had made it.”

Braswell and his Uncle John had attended their first Monolithic Dome Builders Workshop in 1994, and five years later, the family celebrated Christmas merrily in the triple dome house named Vista for its beautiful views and Dhome for being a dome turned forever home. Another uncle with a helicopter zipped the Braswells up into the air, where they saw that the home, comprised of a 50-foot diameter dome connected to two 40-foot domes on either side, looked remarkably like Mickey Mouse.

“I loved building it,” Braswell said. “It was a great experience, so much fun. We had helpers from the local church, and they would get a work blessing and come help us, and we paid donations to the church for their help, so it was an advantage for everybody.”

Fireproof Proof.

The Bryant fire decimated over 550 acres of hillside before it was contained by 675 firefighters.

Al Braswell / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Bryant Fire

They didn’t know then that only three years later, in 2002, the Bryant Fire would ravage 550 acres around the three-dome home. As the vines on the dome sizzled and the nearest tree burst into flames, the Monolithic Dome house stood strong, sustaining no structural damage.

Faux Rock Wall.

The fabricated rock wall (right) shading the sparkling pool was a casualty of the 2002 fire. The Braswells restored it along with tending to other cosmetic damage.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

There was some smoke damage inside, and the fire left its mark on some artistic and cosmetic exterior elements Braswell had created with polyurethane foam.

“I built a lot of structures with foam, painted foam, so it didn’t have fireproof coating over it, and it melts and burns,” Braswell said. “We had burnt trees, and everything around us went on fire, but the fire just went over the top of the dome. The rest of the dome was safe.”

Firefighters fought the blaze for 24 hours, followed by two days of putting out spot fires. One of the firefighters said that if the dome had been made of wood, it would have been a pile of ashes. Vista Dhome stood so firm that the fire crew decided to use it if they needed a safe space for firefighters during the long process of extinguishing the blazes.

Stairway to Heaven.

The winding stairway leads to the second-floor landing with a musical bannister.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Access to the Stars.

The loft features a kitchenette, bathroom and stairway to the Sky Lounge—an octagonal perch for relaxing and taking in the sweeping views.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Sifting Through Memories

The Braswells designed the 4500-square-foot dome house with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and an ample kitchen and living area. A spiral staircase leads to the second level, a huge balcony, and the balcony’s railing declares, “Oh, Give Me a Home,” with musical notes.

The flames faded into memory, and more joy bloomed on the Braswells’ 40 acres of wild land in the San Bernadino Mountain foothills. Braswell and his wife, Kimberly, married there in 2011, enjoying the Dave Matthews song, “You and Me,” with the lyrics, “Eyes closed above the rooftops; eyes closed, we’re gonna spin through the stars, our arms as wide as the sky.”

Sky Lounge.

Dr. Al Braswell mixes a drink in the original glass geodesic dome he and his wife called the Sky Lounge. Although it was a lot of fun, the glass let in too much heat and was replaced by an octagonal observatory with 360 degrees of windows.

David Collins / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

They climbed above the rooftop and into the Sky Lounge, a fifteen-foot diameter observatory on the third floor of Vista Dhome, which had its own little bar. “When we say drinks are on the house, they are ON the house,” Braswell declared, as his father had declared before him.

Braswell’s parents, Dr. Al and Ruth Braswell, spent years dreaming, designing, and redesigning a place to call home, and lived that dream together at Vista Dhome for a dozen years. They had traveled the world together, to over two dozen countries and all fifty states. They tinkered with Vista Dhome, adding ecologically friendly features like photovoltaic panels and a windmill. The Braswells also deliberately sited Vista Dhome in a place of natural beauty. Bears visit occasionally, sometimes going for a swim in their swimming pool.

A Blue Lagoon.

The sparkling Vista Dhome swimming pool and spa.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

“Those bears were having fun,” Braswell said. “They even scaled a six-foot fence to get to my beehives.”

After all their travels, Braswell’s parents decided Vista Dhome would be the final place they would call home—a place of safety, comfort, and beauty.

“When my father checked out, he died right here,” Braswell said. “He’d had Hospice care, and we saw the end and called Hospice, but the freeway’s so messed up, they couldn’t get there. Dad checked out here at 5 pm. It was 4 am before Hospice got there. We took him outside so he could see that view, and his brothers gathered around and sang hymns to him in a barbershop quartet.”

A Wonderful Couple.

Dr. Al and Ruth Braswell in April, 2000.

David Collins / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Ruth and Al had been married for 56 years when she passed in 2007, and Al passed in 2012. Barry Braswell and his wife have lived in Vista Dhome for a decade, and thinking of moving brings back memories. Together, they redesigned Vista Dhome to suit their lives, removing the deep Jacuzzi tub and replacing it with an oversized double shower that opens onto the garden. Braswell replaced the little glass geodesic dome atop the Sky Lounge (it got too hot up there in the summer) with a conventionally built, octagonal structure with eight glass panels.

“When I built Vista Dhome, Mom and Dad loved it, and it was spacious and open and beautiful,” Braswell said. “I redid the kitchen. I put in three sinks and put a bar to the outside to the back patio where the pool is. I made a horseshoe that was open, so you didn’t have to walk all the way around to get out from behind the kitchen counter.”

Although Braswell and his sisters, Dr. Pamela Braswell and Cheryl Dumonville, all had connections of love to Vista Dhome, Braswell built it, so he kept it. Now, he is considering leaving California and selling this place of magic and memories.

Riverside Dome

In 1975, Dr. Al and Ruth Braswell founded Vista Pacifica Enterprises, a 24-hour care facility that provides treatment services for mentally challenged adults. Prior to the construction of Vista Dhome, Barry Braswell and his uncle had built a dome next to the existing Vista Pacifica Enterprises facility in Riverside, California. That dome, which Braswell calls Riverside, became a Life Skills center for the residents of Vista Pacifica Enterprises. The dome has skylights at the top and sides and round windows that didn’t open. They divided Riverside Dome like a pie.

Riverside Dome.

Barry Braswell and his uncle built Riverside dome before Vista Dhome. It became a life skills center for residents of the Braswell’s Vista Pacifica long-term care facility.

David Collins / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

“The dome had a good effect on them,” Braswell said. “We taught them how to tie shoes, how to function, how to work and how to be active in society.”

Braswell worked there for 26 years.

“I gave the patients weapons and we went out and did the landscaping,” Braswell jested. “They used rakes, shovels, loppers, and weed eaters, and I taught them how to cut lawns and trim trees and hedges. It gave them a feeling of accomplishment. I was teaching them, but more than that, they were helping me.”

Dr. Al and Ruth Braswell created a lasting legacy by founding Visa Pacifica and dreaming up their forever home, Vista Dhome. Vista Dhome and Vista Pacifica (along with Riverside Dome) have outlasted their creators and will continue to do so for many years. One of Barry’s sisters, Cheryl Dumonville, now leads Vista Pacifica Enterprises.

Making the Most of the Setting.

The well-appointed outdoor kitchen, the large second-floor patio and the octagonal Sky Lounge of Vista Dhome.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Vista Dhome For Sale

Braswell’s looking carefully for the new owners of Vista Dhome and the family’s beloved 40 acres. He doesn’t plan to rent Vista Dhome out, even though he could make a hefty rental fee. He wants Vista Dhome to go to someone who appreciates its unique character and resilience.

“Nothing will ever be as strong as a dome,” Braswell says. “We want Vista Dhome to go to the right people, to people who will love and care for it as we always have. I’d stay there, but I don’t want to stay in California. It was my father’s dream home, yet ultimately, I saw that it was his dream, not mine.”

This Monolithic Dome Home is a listing by Monica Robinson, DRE #02011997

From Above.

An aerial view of the Braswell’s home.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Drama and Vistas.

The second-floor loft offers this arched set of windows and access to the huge upper deck.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

The Sky Lounge.

The Sky Lounge is an octagonal lookout perched atop this Monolithic Dome House.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Original and New.

The original chandeliers of the Braswells lend a warm glow to the recent renovation.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Dining Room.

The dining room is conveniently located near the kitchen.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Dreams Are Cooked Up Here.

The kitchen in Vista Dhome is every homeowner’s dream.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Seating for Six.

The expansive kitchen island comfortably seats six.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Upgrade Anyone?

This cooking galley boasts upgraded appliances and a pot filler.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Breakfast Nook.

The breakfast table in the Braswell’s kitchen.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Tile and Marble.

Custom tile and marble countertops in the guest bathroom.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

The Primary Suite.

The primary suite has beautiful wood floors and a dramatic chandelier.

Attractive Home Photography / Monica Robinson

Closets and Cupboards.

The built-in cupboards and closets of the primary suite add function to the open feel of the design.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

The Ensuite Bath.

The primary suite’s bath features a custom tile shower and glass bowl sink.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

An Amazing Addition.

The newly built double shower room next to the pool makes cleaning up after a day outside a breeze.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

Front Door Xeriscape.

The entrance to Vista Dhome has been beautifully xeriscaped.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media

A Dream Dome.

Vista Dhome is a tamed oasis amid the wilds of the surrounding foothills.

Attractive Home Photography / Submitted Media