From MLive 2020
A Jackson landmark is getting a makeover.
The Dome was a legendary hangout for generations of Jackson-area youngsters who cruised “The Ave.” — Michigan Avenue — from The Dome to Bea’s Drive-In and back, especially in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Known for its chocolate malts and beefy Domeburgers, that egg-shaped building holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.
The primarily drive-in restaurant closed in 1984, and when the property it sat on was sold in 1988, a group of people organized its move to East Jackson Community Schools where it could live on as a concession stand at the athletic complex.
Now, the much-loved structure is getting an exterior renovation and restoration that’s taking it back to what it looked like when it opened in 1939.
“I think everyone older than me has a Dome story,” East Jackson Community Schools Superintendent Steve Doerr, 49, said. “People have an emotional attachment because this was the icon on the east side of town when kids had freedom to go cruise ‘The Ave.’”
The nearly $60,000 project is being mostly funded by a bond passed in 2019 by school district voters. The rest of the money comes from the Preserve the Dome fund, Doerr said.
Work includes roofing, restoring and weatherproofing outdoor walls, fresh paint and restoring metal awnings, Doerr said. Steel scalloping for the original awnings was made with the help of Alro Steel. The original windows are staying in the building.
“It came to a point to where the outside needed more attention than just little patches,” Doerr said.
The 1939 facade was covered by a 1961 renovation, Doerr said. The current renovations will restore it back to its original look..
Doerr appreciates the nostalgia the building brings from the Jackson community.
“Almost everyone has a Dome story," he said. "They remember it. It’s a part of their youth that they are holding on to.”
Doerr expects the work to keep the building in good shape for at least 20 years.