No memory too small for Astrodome project

Public invited to scan their photos, memorabilia

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - If its walls could talk, the Astrodome would recount decades of storied tales.

The dome hosted everything from rodeos to Superbowls to rock concerts. The dome has even presided over watershed moments like the famous "Battle of the Sexes" between tennis greats Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

But it's the personal memories that strike a chord with native Houstonians, especially when anyone dared suggest the building be demolished.

"I think everyone is just full of memories of all of the things that they did in the Astrodome," said Judith Hiott, who heads the Houston Area Library's Automated Network.

The library is involved in a major undertaking to preserve memories of the dome online at AstrodomeMemories.org.

A public scanning event will be held Saturday to collect more photos, artifacts and oral histories of the so-called eighth wonder of the world.

The project is a collaboration between the Houston Public Library, Rice University's Fondren Library, the University of Houston libraries, the Harris County Public Library and the Harris County Archives.

Among the memories they've already collected is a photograph from 1972 of a local woman dressed in her "space-ette" uniform and the sketches from the designer who created the garb worn by everyone who worked in the Astrodome.

"It really went with the time of the Astrodome. It was such a dramatic place. They had dramatic outfits," said Amanda Focke, a researcher at Rice University's Fondren Library who is working on the project.

While the library is working to preserve the Astrodome's past, there is still the question about the structure's future.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said it would cost millions of dollars to demolish the dome, so he'd like to see those dollars spent to keep it around for future generations.

"I think more and more people are signing off on the idea of making it an open space; a park, if you will, with parking underneath and then turning the upper space into a private conservancy," Emmett said.

The public is invited to bring their photos and memorabilia to be scanned and have their personal memories recorded from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at the Julia Ideson Building Auditorium on McKinney Street.

To make an appointment for Saturday's event or another date and time, call 832-393-1522.

Share your Astrodome memories with KPRC 2 at share@click2houston.com.

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