Dexter Roundhouse
Built in 1916, the historic Dexter Roundhouse is located in Dexter, IA. Matthew L. King, a well-know agricultural engineer, was selected to design the Roundhouse.  A significant advancement in engineering technology was demonstated by King in the construction of this building.  The building measures 100 feet long and 70 wide.  The entire span was built without a single pillar or supporting wall.  A complete structural investigation was completed in 2003 and it was found that the dome consisted entirely of hollow-block clay tile and mortar with a cement overlay. Further, it was discovered that the dome was not suspended from or supported in any way by the concrete ribs that cross the top of the roof.  No steel reinforcing bars were found in either the hollow tile or cement overlay.    The inspection revealed that the roof, secured by a tension ring at the base of the dome, is truly self-supporting. 

The unique design of the building was made known by King during the construction process, apparently through membership in the Permanent Building Society.  Subsequently, several engineers from across the state came to observe the "load test" on the roof in January 1914.  Although the test results proved the strength of the roof was satisfactory, rumors of the pending collapse of the dome were circulated and persisted for years to come.

The building was dedicated in February 1917 and became the center of social life in Dexter.  Touring companies were booked and the building was used for meetings, conferences, lyceum, extension short courses, chautauques, vaudville, movies, church services, plays and other community events.  A wooden gymnasium floor was installed over the clay floor in 1923 to attract athletics.  Thereafer, the Roundhouse was used increasingly by the Dexter School and in 1927, was leased to the school as an auditorium/gymnasium until the new school was constructed in 1975.  The building continued to be used until it was closed due to safety issues in 1998.

Email: [email protected]
Additional Information:
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Upcoming Events:

December 16th
Old Fashioned Christmas
at the Roundhouse
2-4 pm

Events include:
Cookie Walk, Quilt Drawing, Kids Crafts,
Christmas Carols and Special Guest.

Come and see the renovations to the Roundhouse

Free Admission

January 18th
6-8 pm
Dexter Roundhouse

.25 per Card
$50 Progressive Jackpot
Additional Area Links:
City of Dexter: History, Calendar of Events

White Pole Road: History, Home of the 26 Mile Garage Sale
Dexfield Park:  Home of the Dexfield Amusement Park; Scene of Bonnie and Clyde Shootout
Restoration Efforts:
The Community House (Roundhouse) Board was awarded a $100,000 HSPG grant to assist in rehabilitating the Roundhouse.  The rehabilitaition will include the installation of geothermal heating and cooling, handicap accessibility, and a warming kitchen.  Historical displays will be mounted on the walls to tell the store of Dexter and the surrounding area.  The yard next to the Roundhouse will be graded to correct drainage problems and an heirloom garden will be planted.

Construction begins soon, and once again, this unusual structure will be the home of community functions
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