Georgetown's onion dome comes down; new replica to be installed early fall

The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
The onion dome on top of the Old Masonic Lodge Building, now Gumbo's North, was removed the morning of June 18. A new but identical dome will replace the old one after repairs to the building's roof are complete. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Georgetown Square’s iconic onion dome was removed June 18 from its perch atop the Old Masonic Lodge Building, which currently houses the restaurant Gumbo’s North.

A hailstorm in 2018 caused severe damage to the building. Owner Chris Damon said though he could see the dome itself was damaged, his primary concern was the pedestal, which could only be inspected by removing the dome. The impact was substantial enough to warrant a new dome, Damon said.

“But isn’t it historic?” is a question Damon said he has received from some people.

The onion dome removed Thursday morning was actually built in 1985 and is a replica of the original, he said.

The first dome was built in 1900. About a decade and a half later, it disappeared.


In photographs after 1917 or thereabouts, there is no dome, and there is no known record of what happened to it, Damon said.

“There are stories that it fell off in a storm, but that doesn’t sound right based on how the building is built,” he said.

The original dome was made of copper, so another theory is that it was melted down as part of World War I preparation efforts.

“That’s conceivable,” Damon said. “It’s interesting that it wasn’t that long ago, yet it’s kind of a big mystery.”

The building remained domeless until 1985, when the woman who owned the building prior to Damon was driving through Kentucky and saw an onion dome in a pasture. She inquired about it and was referred to Cambellsville Industries Inc., a church steeple and cupola installation company trademarked “the steeple people.”

The company recreated the new dome to resemble its vanished 1900s predecessor, and it was installed at the original location at 701 S. Main St., where it lived until now.

Damon said he contacted Cambellsville Industries and was pleased to learn many of the same people were still working there, and they had all of the plans from the 1985 project.

As a result, the new, third dome will be identical to the former. While it is under construction, the building will undergo other repairs with the restaurant remaining open, and Damon said he hopes the new dome will arrive around September. His goal is to have it in place before POPPtober Fest Oct. 23-25.

“We hope to have a dome-raising party,” Damon said regarding inviting the community to come watch the new structure’s installation. “It will be a fun thing.”

But what does one do with an old onion dome?

“We don’t have a plan for the [recently removed] dome right now,” Damon said. “It’s going to sit in our general contractor’s pasture.”

At first, Damon said, he liked the idea of donating it to a charity to be auctioned off, for example, but it is extremely expensive to transport, to the point that plan is not feasible.

“We need to figure out a forever plan for the old dome,” he said. “The temporary plan is to set it aside for a little bit and ponder.”



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