Dexter Community House, Dexter, Iowa
Posted by: hiker6699
N 41° 31.023 W 094° 13.783
15T E 397390 N 4596887
Quick Description: Dexter Community House aka "The Roundhouse"
Location: Iowa, United States
Date Posted: 9/27/2009 10:17:29 PM
Waymark Code: WM7AQ2
The Dexter Communty House was built in 1916 through the effort of several prominent members of the communkity. The idea was fostered by a tabernacle that had been constructed for temporary use in the early 1900s as a place for revival meetings, social gatherings, & entertainment of the time. When that structure was lost, the proposition of a community building was made. Money was raised through the sale of shares. Shares cost 5$. No one was allowed to purchase more than 60 shares. When enough shares were sold, plans were made for a unique public building that was deemed the 1st of it's kind in America. The total cost was $10,000. The architect was Major Matthew Leander King.
The 1st managing board consisted of 2 members from each church & 1 each from the farm group, school board & town council. There were 188 names in the original list of shareholders.
The 100' x 68' building appears round at ground level, but it elliptical. The building is constructed of hollow block. The roof is domed without support except for the walls. The interior offered a box office at the South entrance,a fully equiped stage & huge auditorium for movies, religious services, political & social gatherings.
Succeeding years saw extensive use by the Dexter School District for school plays, musical presentations, graduations & before the new High School was completed - basketball games. The large D with school colors is still on the wood floor.
The 90+ year old building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It continues to be a popular site for a variety of community functions, entertainment, theater, sports activities, dances, reunions, church sevices & club meetings. Most recently the 6th District of the Iowa American Legion Auxilliary had their conference & luncheon here.
The building is owned by the City of Dexter & is maintained & opereated by the Dexter Community House Board. The Board has worked since 1985 to keep the facility inusable condition. Repairs to the roof, chimney, exterior, windows, sills, doors, locks & interior have been made with money raised through a variety of fundraisers. In 2001, A campaign for full restoration was begun. Grant applications have been made. Major fund raising events have been held & more are planned for the future. The project is to be completed in 5 phases beginning in 2001 & ending (hopefully) in 2010. The 1st Phase was completed in the 2001 with the installation of a new roof membrane.
The 2nd Phase included work removing all the ceiling plaster, applying paint sealant & masonry work around the top of the walls & outside the corbel.
Phase 3, completed in 2007, included new heating & air conditioning geothhermal system & a new electrical system. Also the South wall was moved in 7' to allow for a handicap accessible restroom, a kitchen, office area & storage room. The front entryway was redone to include wall lights for display cases & new access to the box office. There is also a mezzanine area to provide audio & lighting for stage productions.
The Dexter Community House remains an archtechural wonder of engineering technology. Each 1st visit eleicits a jaw dropping "WOW!" when entering the auditorium with its 30' high dome.
Dexter, IA USA
County / Borough / Parish: Dallas County
Year listed: 1975
Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture/Engineering
Periods of significance: 1900-1924
Historic function: Social
Current function: Recreation And Culture
Season start / Season finish: From: 1/1/2009 To: 12/31/2009
Primary Web Site: [Web Link]
Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]
Privately owned?: Not Listed
Hours of operation: Not listed
Secondary Website 2: Not listed
National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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