Campbell Dome House, “Futuristic” Overland Park Icon, Receives Historic Designation

Through Carlos Moreno

Campbell Dome sits on a sea of ​​shingled roofs in Overland Park. Panes of glass shine on one side of the white hemisphere, making it look like a spaceship has landed between the houses.

“People ask all the time, ‘What is this? “, Explains Jeff Rhodes. “The way the roof has this white monolith, it doesn’t look like a house at all. “

Jeff lives in the Dome House with his wife, Keli Campbell. They are the third generation to enjoy unusual accommodation in the South Lakes area, near downtown Overland Park.

Keli’s father, Mark Campbell, spent his teenage years under this orb. Her parents were from South Texas, where they missed the weather all year round.

“My parents wanted, instead of going down to the Rio Grande Valley, to move part of the Rio Grande Valley here,” says Campbell. “So they wanted a house they could live in normally but with a yard.”

Sandy Campbell, left, waits outside the Dome House to greet visitors for the house’s first open house on November 6. Photo credit Carlos Moreno / KCUR 89.3.

Bob Campbell was a modern structural engineer. He was involved in the design of the Truman Sports Complex, MCI Airport and the reconstruction of the Kemper Arena.

He was also fascinated by the domes. Along with architect John Shaver, Bob built schools in the 1950s and 1960s in Kansas, Colorado, and Michigan using this and other non-traditional shapes.

In 1968, when Bob built a dome-shaped house for himself to live in, it was as much a hands-on exercise as anything.

“It was number one for a point of sale, but number two is what your welds should look like,” says Mark Campbell.

The mid-century modern aesthetic is clearly visible inside the family room inside the domed house’s ranch style home. The glass wall that separates the family room from the patio can slide down to the basement, creating a large internal gathering space. Photo credit Carlos Moreno / KCUR 89.3.

Bob told his neighbors about the project before it started, and no one objected – in fact, they seemed to be happy to have the oddity on their street.

Campbell said he and his father would assemble the pieces in the yard, bolt them together, and weld them in place to demonstrate to the contractors.

Scott Lane grew up in the 1960s in the booming suburb of Overland Park and occasionally walked past the Dome. As a teenager, he remembers connecting the house with an article on popular mechanics showing people entering and exiting domes with their personal aircraft.

“The domes were kind of a funny thing,” he says. “You know you’re supposed to own a helicopter, a personal helicopter. It’s very futuristic.

Almost 50 years later, as a real estate agent and president of Modern KC – an organization dedicated to promoting modern architecture – Lane finally got a glimpse of the interior. In early November, KC Modern organized the Campbell residency very first open day.

“I was fascinated by the fact that this is a house in a dome,” Lane says. “You have a mid-century house in a domed structure. “

A snowy scene from the Dome House was captured by Mark Campbell in the 1970s. Image courtesy of Bob Campbell.

Beneath its futuristic hull is an open-plan kitchen, three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a dining room and a family room, adjacent to a courtyard and a swimming pool.

The interior of the house screams 60s modernity, from its cedar beams and wood panels to the indoor planters and the masonry that extends to the exterior.

“There’s an aesthetic, and it’s kind of an architectural idea there that, while it’s really quirky and somewhat odd, is also really fun and well done,” says Chris Fein, professor of architecture. at Kansas State University and a member of the board of directors of KC Modern. member.

Fein says that despite Bob Campbell’s ambitions, the concept of domes as the future of housing was simply unworkable.

“At the end of the day, there’s not much cheaper than building a wood-frame house like we’ve been building houses all along,” says Fein. “They don’t really solve the most important problems and create new ones. “

The original plans for the domed house show the details of its construction.

Bob Campbell died in 2011 and his wife, Lolly, died in 2013. After that, the house was left empty for the following years. The family used it for occasional reunions, and even for Keli and Jeff’s wedding.

This is what gave them the idea of ​​finally sharing the space with the public.

“I don’t remember it was super weird,” says Keli, who actually grew up living in the house next door. “It was always my grandparents’ house. So, I don’t think I knew when I was a kid how special it was.

Keli and Jeff decided that in order to honor the legacy of the domed house, they needed to restore it to its mid-century aesthetic, with a bit of modern polish. Most of the work is cosmetic, but the leaky roof requires a lot of attention.

“Since I have lived here, I have also learned that this house requires more maintenance than a normal house,” she says.

Mark Campbell (second from left) speaks to visitors at an open house on November 6 about the domed house his father built in 1968. He is standing on the patio of the patio which is warmed by the sun and absorbs heat throughout the day to help keep the interior space warm. Photo credit Carlos Moreno / KCUR 89.3.

In November, the Campbell Dome House was officially added to list of Kansas historic sites, a state designation that gives homeowners access to tax credits and incentives to help with their restoration. And their application for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places is currently pending.

Meanwhile, the family have already started renting out the house for events and gatherings, and one day hope to donate it as an Airbnb – the income they hope will allow them to afford the upkeep of the structure. now 53 years old.

“Back then, people wanted to do something different,” says Jeff. “And that’s it. We are excited to wear it in the future for sure.

KCUR 89.3 is the NPR affiliate public radio station in Kansas City. You can read and listen to more of their reports on

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