When Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” he meant it. When others did not believe in his vision of Disney World, he built it anyway.
That is what is happening here in Springfield with the rebirth of the former South High School into the Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome.
It took incredible vision to get to this point, even when many did not believe that the iconic building could be revived. That vision began with two key individuals: State Senator Chris Widener and former Springfield City Schools Superintendent David Estrop. They simply made this dream happen for our community.
Recently, a Parade insert featured an article on how to revitalize your local Main Street. It highlighted several communities around the country that have done just that, and offered some tips on how communities like Springfield can continue to work towards that goal. Two of the tips mentioned in the Parade article pointed out that you have to preserve the best of what makes your town special and you must harness civic pride.
With the many projects currently going on throughout this community and $23 million being pumped into this former Springfield South High School, we are seeing real signs of a reawakening happening on our most important main street corridor.
It takes teamwork to accomplish anything great, and some key partnerships are making this beacon of hope for our community possible.
Many thanks goes out to Springfield City School District, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools, Global Impact STEM Academy and Clark State Community College for their roles in bringing The Dome back to life. Collectively, they will provide training for students from all school districts to better prepare them for existing and future career opportunities.
Many thanks also to Vaughn Anthony for presenting this opportunity to his brother, hometown international superstar John Legend, who has played an important role in raising money and awareness to help make this dream project a reality.
This amazing building was originally constructed just south of downtown Springfield in 1911. It was designed by Dayton, Ohio architect Albert Pretzinger and was modeled after the Library of Congress, renowned for its large dome.
This building has stood the test of time and seen the best days and the worst days of Springfield, our community and our culture. But most importantly, it served as the centerpiece for the education and training of our workforce in this region for many decades.
Today, it is hard to imagine that the school was first opened during a time when Springfield was becoming known around the world as the home for manufacturing innovation and jobs for thousands.
Now, the Springfield Center for Innovation: The Dome will serve in that capacity again, and will showcase our community’s commitment to our youth and their teachers by offering the best information and technology available to help them build the necessary skills for the future jobs in Ohio.
It also enables our community to offer year-round career exploration, personalized college and career advising, and hands-on preparation for careers in manufacturing, computer science and food and biosciences.
The renewed energy around The Dome is electric. With the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon last week, we now celebrate the conversion of one of Springfield’s greatest historic assets into a beacon of hope for our community that will help transform this generation, and future ones to come.
(McDorman is President & CEO of The Chamber of Greater Springfield)