Airport Road dome may end up at Quonset Air Museum

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The iconic dome on Airport Road in Warwick may soon have a new home.

John Kane, president of the Quonset Air Museum, said Monday he was approached with a proposal to use the geodesic dome at the museum’s eventual new facility.

The museum has been closed since last March and it’s been searching for a new home since. Kane said the museum has found a possible site about a mile away in Quonset Point, but the paperwork for the property transfer has not yet been completed.

As for the dome, Kane said it was set to be torn down when the contractors realized there’s only a handful of those types of structures left, so they decided to look for an agency willing to make use of it.

The landmark was built in the early 1960s but has sat vacant since 2008. Rep. Joe Shekarchi said in February the dome could come down as soon as this spring to make way for a new Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility.

The state would be donating the dome to the museum, according to Kane, and it would cost $20,000 to $25,000 to take it down and re-erect it in its new home.

“We’re in need of buildings for our new property, when we get one. And the building itself is historically significant,” said Nate O’Donnell of the Quonset Air Museum. “There’s not a lot of geodesic domes left in the country.”

Kane said the exact use of the dome hasn’t been decided on, but added that it could be used as a hangar, for aircraft construction and maintenance, or for the storage of parts.

O’Donnell told Eyewitness News said he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback about the idea.

“I think it’s great. The geodesic dome is a pretty cool piece of architecture. And it’s pretty useful because you can fit a lot of either vehicles or items inside of it,” he said.

The museum was condemned last year after heavy snowfall caused a roof collapse.

“We’ve been working getting all our artifacts out,” O’Donnell explained. “We have four large shipping containers filled with artifacts and pieces at the museum, so that once we do get a new property, we can literally just pick them up and move them.”

Attorneys are now reviewing the proposal, according to Kane.

Patti Goldstein, a spokesperson for Rhode Island Airport Corporation, confirmed the proposal but didn’t provide any additional details.

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