Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
November 12, 2008, Front Page
Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon
Silver Dome to celebrate 75 years
By Peter Spicer
The Silver Dome Ballroom located five miles west of Neillsville on USH 10; will celebrate its 75th anniversary Saturday, November 15, 2008.
The Music Connection will perform old-time music from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sage will play classic country and rock tunes from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Howard Luedtke and Blue Max will close the evening by performing at 10 p.m. Saturday evening. Admission and food, including sandwiches and snacks, are free.
The Music Connection is a group from Wausau and will provide music for the dancers Saturday afternoon.
Sage hails from the Osseo area and was founded by Gary, Mark and Randy Anderson. The group performs a classic country and rock music mix.
Luedtke, who is originally from Augusta, will travel to the Silver Dome from his residence in Chippewa Falls. Luedtke and his band, Blue Max are a blues and rock trio. Luedtke is a slide guitar player on the blues circuit and has played at many of the Midwest’s largest flues festivals.
The Silver Dome Ballroom (above), located five miles west of Neillsville on WSH 10, will celebrate its 75th anniversary Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008. The Silver Dome was built in 1933 (pictured in 1940 below) and is currently used for social gatherings. The Music Connection, Sage and Howard Luedtke and Blue Max will perform at the anniversary celebration, which features free food and admission. (Contributed photos)
The Silver Dome was constructed for $12,000 in 1929 and opened in 1933 by owners, brothers and Neillsville residents Al, Paul, Walter and Herb Keller during the Great Depression.
The building was constructed without the use of electricity. An automobile drive axle was used to operate a mechanical saw during Silver Dome construction.
The ballroom was named the Silver Dome because of its silver-colored, aluminum-painted roof, which was later stripped and covered with shingles during the 1950s.
A Lamella truss design is the arching design utilized at the Silver Dome. The patented design, which the Keller brothers paid $1,000 to use, features bolted ceiling beams allowing for a “clear-span” interior.
The Silver Dome’s rounded; band-shell-style ends – which are part of the Lamella truss design – make the Silver Dome a one-of-kind building.
Ken Weber and his wife purchased the Silver Dome from the Kellers in 1951.
Many bands have performed at the Silver Dome since its opening, including Duke Ellington’s Band, Count Basie, The Lawrence Welk Orchestra, Glenn Miller Orchestra and Gene Autry, “the Singing Cowboy” who was the first big-name performer to visit the Silver Dome.
The Silver Dome was listed in the National Registries of Historical Places in 1997 for its unique architecture and entertainment history. It is currently used for social gatherings and is owned by Dough Myren – who became the seventh Silver Dome owner since 1933.
Since Myren’s ownership begin in 2000, many famous acts have performed at the ballroom, including Don Williams, John Anderson, the Bellamy Brothers, Foghat, Dwight Twilley, Classic Rock All Stars and television, film and recording star Jerry Reed.
Myren has also helped improve the building since his ownership began. Furnaces were replaced, air conditioning was added, restrooms were remodeled, the building’s roof was re-shingled, and the inside and outside of the building was painted.
The Silver Dome’s fluorescent lighting will be replaced for the 75th anniversary celebration; additional interior painting will also be completed by Nov. 15.
Despite some changes, the Silver Dome retains its original cash registers, coolers, compressors, milk cans, signage and other items.
Myren plans to begin holding an annual weeklong Oktoberfest at the Silver Dome beginning in 2009 for old-time music lovers and an annual Blues Festival.
An annual Mockfest is held at the Silver Dome each spring, featuring Ozzy Osborne, Motley Crue and other tribute bands. Free Rockfest tickets are given away as door prizes at Mockfest.
The Silver Dome is also host to many wedding and anniversary receptions and several old-time dances and other public music events yearly.
Neillsville resident Dee Zimmerman and her husband, Lloyd, have enjoyed dancing at the Silver Dome and attending events there for 30 years.
Dee Zimmerman, who “enjoy[s] dancing on the unique wooden dance floor,” described the dance floor as one of few remaining wood dance floors in the area.
The Zimmermans have held wedding anniversary celebrations at the Silver Dome and also have attended the wedding and anniversary receptions of others at the ballroom.
Contributions toward the cost of food and bands at the 75th anniversary celebration will gladly be accepted at the event.
For information about the Silver Dome, call 715-743-7774.
Other Silver Dome Articles:
Hardrath Scrapbook page 6
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