Who we are
We are a group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of the Dome in Woods Hole, which has sat vacant for almost 20 years.
The wooden geodesic dome was constructed in 1953 by students under the tutelege of R. Buckminster Fuller, who is known as one of the most important design thinkers of the 20th Century. These students travelled from across the country, inspired by Fuller’s holistic and futuristic worldview, to come to Woods Hole to build the dome that summer. They pre-cut the wooden members of the structure in Cambridge, on the campus of MIT, and transported them to the site where the team lived for three weeks while erecting the structure.
Built to serve as the restaurant for the Nautilus Motor Inn, The Dome – initially derided by many as a modern interloper on traditional Cape Cod – survived early criticism and operated successfully for decades. Over the years, The Dome became a beloved fixture in the village, a destination for special dinners, and a highlight for tourists.
The dome is iconic. Perched on a knoll at the entrance to the village of Woods Hole, the dome has spectacular views of the village and Little Harbor. The dome's interior is enthralling, and the framework of the geodesic structure is elegant, simple, ingenious and inventive.
The dome in Woods Hole is the oldest of Fuller’s domes. It is hard to believe, but Woods Hole is home to the oldest surviving geodesic dome in the world! Some were built prior to Woods Hole, but most were temporary and experimental, and none have survived to today.
Today, the dome is in total disrepair. The dome, and the larger site on which it sits, fell out of use around 2002, and efforts to redevelop the property have not been successful. Sadly, the historic mid-century modern Nautilus Inn has been allowed to wither and decay, and is now beyond repair. The Dome and its attached wings are in better condition, but also suffer from roof leaks, animal intrusion, and vandalism.
Beginning in 2016, several different groups of citizens began to look at the Dome, and we all wondered how the extraordinary building could become something new and wonderful. The Dome is clearly historically significant and worthy of preservation, yet while we are convinced that the Dome should be preserved we also know that a project like this can’t simply be about “Saving the Dome”. Any effort to preserve the dome must come with a plan for its future.
This dome and site need a new and contemporary use, one that makes sense for the local community, and one that embraces the enthusiastic and progressive worldview that gave birth to the Dome. To this end, a new organization has been formed.
We are The Dome at Woods Hole. Building on the collaborative, cultural, and creative foundation that built the dome in the first place, The Dome is dedicated to creating a nexus for design, technology, science and the environment – a place dedicated to education and exploration, and one that will embrace a contemporary manifestation of Buckminster Fuller’s legacy.
We want to do something great with The Dome. And we'll need a lot of help.
Today, this dome, forever the symbol of a progressive and holistic spirit, sits vacant.
As we move forward, we welcome feedback from the Woods Hole and Falmouth community, on questions such as:
Will this include art exhibits? Will this include performance of dance, theater, music, puppetry, poetry? Will this include interactive displays? Will this include an historic exhibit on the work of Buckminster Fuller and geodesic design? Will this include workshops and studios? Will this include lectures and classes? Will this include residencies for artists, scientists, environmentalists, students? Will this include a community gathering space? Will this include a café, a gift shop, a library or archive? Will this include special events space, a place for conferences and symposia? What else will The Dome include?
What will it look like? How will it fit into the historic district that it calls home? What will work best for the community, the village of Woods Hole, the Town of Falmouth, Cape Cod?