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October 20, 2005

The domes

by HANK SIMS


photo of the domes 1364 Myrtle Ave., EurekaReader Shaye Harty of Arcata asks: What's with those odd, dome-shaped buildings on Myrtle Avenue in Eureka, and what is the oddly acronymed organization that inhabits them?

The domes! Your reporter remembers his first contact with them during his zitty halcyon days in the mid-to-late '80s, when they housed Video Connections. My reasons for trekking from Arcata to Myrtletown to rent a movie are regrettably lost to the swirls of memory (see p. 6 --- or, alternatively, this week's cover story), but it would be reasonable to conclude that Video Connections may have been one of the first video rental shops in the county.

Nowadays, the sign outside 1364 Myrtle Ave., home of the domes, carries an enigmatic logo of two hands reaching up to a star, with the letters "NCSAC" written beneath in block capitals. What does it mean? Tim Flemming, executive assistant of the North Coast Substance Abuse Council, Inc., filled us in.

"The logo was created by one of our people here," he said. "The idea is --- 'Reach for the Stars.'" This is an apt (if somewhat crudely executed) metaphor for NCSAC, a non-profit agency dedicated to the treatment of addiction. The domes have served as the agency's administrative offices, as well as an outpatient treatment facility, for the last few years.

Flemming said that many people share your curiosity, Shaye. "It's not as often anymore, but I do get people coming in off the street," he said. "Our sign doesn't really explain, so every once in a while people walk in saying, 'What is this place? What do you do here?'"

But the hassles engendered by such thrill-seekers are more than balanced by the convenience of the address. Flemming said that one of the benefits of working in the domes is that you never have to give directions --- you just say "the domes on Myrtle."

Several off-the-record, none-too-certain sources contacted during this inquiry believe that the domes were originally built in the 1970s by some company that intended to blanket the hills with them --- instant, pre-fabricated hippie housing. The Myrtletown domes, it is believed, functioned as the dome manufacturer's factory showroom.

If this is so, it is worth noting that the domes are not of the geodesic variety devised by counterculture guru R. Buckminster Fuller, hot items at the time; rather, they more closely resemble the "onion dome" common to Russian Orthodox churches. Hence, perhaps, this company's demise.

Read the follow-up in the North Coast Journal Oct. 27, 2005 edition...


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