Friday, January 21, 2011

The Orange Dome

In 1964 construction was started on a very unique building in Winter Haven. It was round topped and was being built where the Florida Citrus Festival would make it's home. Construction was completed within a year and in 1965 the Citrus Dome was opened. A time capsule was buried on the grounds at that time, to be opened 100 years later.

The capsule is acutally built into the wall right outside the main entrance to the dome. As you are facing the entrance the capsule would be on the right side. The window in the middle was a ticket window. In recent years it became a showcase window. I know I would never fit in that's teeny tiny.

This is a photo of the front of the building. It was originally designed for parking on the main road, Cypress Gardens Boulevard. Today that is not possible because the Boulevard is now a 4 lane highway.
This is a picture of the back of the bulding. This is the door that actually leads from the building to the fairgrounds. The Citrus Festival was last held in 2007 I believe. There was not enough funding to keep it going and the popularity decreased over the years. My husband and I used to volunteer at the Festival and it was a sad day when they made the announcement that the Festival would not be returning.
The roof of the bulding is not actually attached to the building. It sets on top of some brick columns. It is probably the most sturdy building in the state. It is a very unique building and I am hoping to be able to get inside soon to take some photos.
And I am planning on researching more of the history and how and why it was built the way it was. I am also going to try to find some photos taken in the late 1990's when it was painted like a baseball with backwards stitching (long story). I wanted to share some of the Orange Dome with you because within the next 18 months they are going to be tearing it down. I just don't understand how we can destroy history like it was never there. The Dome has been many things over the has not been sitting empty. It has been used by Walmart for layaways, it's been an ice skating rink, volleyball court, it's held parties, car shows, boat shows, rv shows, holiday events, the Festival of Trees. Lots and lots of fun and good times in that one small building.


Missy's Blog said...

Bonnie, thank you for this post. You know in all the years I lived in WH I just took the orange dome for granted. Never once did I think there would come a day when it would no longer be there. As a child I remember the Orange Festival days. The orange dome always held the crafts and vendor, but on the circular parts it held all the crafts & art projects school children made. It was an honor to have your art work displayed there. Also ... gosh ... I remember the wrestling matches ... LOL ... Dusty Rhodes, Tommy Wildfire Rich, Andre the Giant! It saddens me to think it will be gone soon.

Granny Annie said...

Why are they going to destroy this historical landmark? Surely some philanthropist will pop up to save the day. Or, are they taking it down so some big developer can profit? It has to be some form of greed that is ruling the day.

PEA said...

It always makes my blood boil when I hear about historical buildings being torn down!! You should all plan a protest and chain yourselves to the building! lol I do hope it can be saved, though, especially if it's been used for so many things and never sits empty. Why can't they just let it continue like that?! When you find more about that building, let us know:-) xoxo

Bonnie said...

Just to let you know..the city owns the land and they realized that since it sits on lake front property, they could make big $$ from taxes if they sold it. So they have sold it to a developer who is going to of course build another shopping center that is going to sit empty and supposedly condos and apts too. That's progress for you.

Gary said...

Thank you for your entry of value here. I had not been aware of all the various events that had taken place at the Dome. I am 50 & grew up in WH with it but moved to NYC after attending college in the Mid-West. (My mother & brother & his family live there so I do visit from time to time.) I have been living in a unique 6 story building in a prime section of NYC which was built in 1902 & has been landmarked yet still struggles with risk of not being valued from a landlord who wishes to tear down part of it to construct a high rise tower in order to make more money from the land. What's happening here & there represents some of the dark side of our culture. There are plenty of examples of how communities learn to appreciate their unique structures/landmarks & layer/patchwork upon them for greater glory - but sadly plenty of wrong moves like this one are also still occurring. Seeing a youtube video of someone sizing up/driving through the whole Chain of Lakes Park re-emphasizes the huge leeway that the future developer had to work with here. As you say - it must be the strongest building in the state & it didn't just sit there being unused. The future developer also emphasized that by saying that a wrecking ball would bounce right off it it was so strong. To tear it down was simply because city management failed to value it enough. There seemed to have been little resistance & no compromises or attempts at including this strong structure into the future designs. I have written a 3 paragraph eulogy to the Orange Dome. I'm not sure how long it will stay accessible to others on my facebook page - but I will post it here if it's not an imposition upon your blog space.

Gary said...

Eulogy for The Orange Dome - by Gary Wright

An iconic unique landmark & a whimsical reminder of "what we were" - the FL Citrus Showcase Dome had architecturally interesting form & proportion (very few would ever say that it was "unattractive,") but more importantly it was a culturally rich building of it's time. It had character & never failed at it's task to give us a place to safely congregate, celebrate & explore future dreams for the city. The Dome codified the great aspirations of its early builders, our heritage, & was a building that had a lot to do with inspiring us to pursue big dreams & even more to do with us falling in love with the city as children.

The power of great art, architecture, music, literature & philosophy is their ability to speak to us on many levels at once, if we are willing to listen. This rare structure eloquently enunciated who we were - but also of our potential at a pivotal point in our nation’s history to be about something more than mere shoppers. (I'm angered at what less interesting structures will be replacing it - as well as the total utter failure of preservation entities that did not champion & put up more of a fight here.) This troubling demolition of a structurally strong building will negatively shape & alter Winter Havens footprint forever, regrets will accumulate & ultimately dispirit most everyone, but eulogies need to focus on the positive, so I digress.

We salute you Orange Dome for what you brought us. We thankfully respect you for standing strong & looking pretty darn good all these years. Just because we failed you with lack of creativity & ingenuity in not finding a better use for you doesn't mean that we didn't value & appreciate you? We will continue to honor you in our memories by always remembering & missing you. We will treasure our pictures we have of you & longingly tell people about your special charm whenever we talk about our old city. We hope it doesn't hurt too much? You really don't deserve this kind of treatment because you never really did anything wrong? We love you Orange Dome. Peace be with you.