Tuesday, November 5, was a disappointing day for the Our Astrodome Coalition, the Dome Mobile team, and the Houston Astrodome. Though the Dome Mobile had an overwhelmingly positive response everywhere it went, Proposition 2 ultimately failed to pass among Harris County voters. The vote, which would have allowed bonds to be issued for the redevelopment of the Dome as the world’s largest special events space, had a closing tally of 111,888 (46.57%) for the proposition and 128,385 (53.43%) against.
A final decision regarding the fate of the Dome now rests with the Harris County Commissioners. Previously, the Commissioners had said that if the bond did not pass, they would recommend demolition. On Tuesday night, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said, "We're going to have to do something quick. We can't allow the once-proud Dome to sit like a rusting ship in the middle of a parking lot."
The National Trust and the other members of the Our Astrodome coalition were successful, however, in moving the field of preservation forward in the nation’s fourth largest city. Consider some of the highlights:
- More than 10,000 people were engaged in a variety of ways over the 16-day, 30+ stop Dome Mobile campaign.
- More than 3,800 people signed the “Save The Dome” pledge at Causes.com.
- The national coverage of the fight to save the Dome brought a complicated issue to the forefront (like in this terrific article from the Los Angeles Times), while it also highlighted the importance of midcentury modern architecture.
Most remarkably, the entire effort was done on a limited budget with a committed and passionate coalition of preservation-minded organizations. The Dome Mobile team and the National Trust would like to give a special thank you to the dozens of volunteers, businesses, and organizations who supported the Our Astrodome Coalition and the Dome Mobile. Our local partners were:
We will continue to work in Houston and Texas to save endangered historic places of national significance, and we promise to keep you informed about the Astrodome’s fate.
One last thought before we sign off, though: While the loss of this historic icon saddens us, we at the National Trust also recognize that we have laid significant groundwork for our future efforts in Houston and throughout the United States. What’s more, we all showed -- together -- that the Astrodome is an important part of history.
As we’ve learned with the recent demolition of another Modernist icon, Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, loss precedes hope. It spurs us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and find the next place that needs our help. And with hard work and dedication and the help of passionate people like you, next time we’ll be celebrating a save. Thank you.
Pledge to protect other Modernist icons around the country, and join us in saving the buildings, landscapes, and sites of the Modern movement so they can continue to push boundaries for generations to come.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.