Not far south of Casa Grande, Arizona you’ll find an odd collection of structures out in the middle of the desert, set just off the side of the road. Locals and explorers know these structures simply as “the domes,” or “the domes of Casa Grande.” For over thirty years, these domes have sat decaying in the desert heat, being bombarded by the constant dust and dry weather of the Sonoran Desert. These strange, round structures were built for a very specific purpose during the 1980s, but were never finished. Sometimes the story isn’t nearly as odd as you may think, but in some ways, that can make it even odder.
Many tourists, explorers, photographers and ghost hunters have visited the domes every year, some just to see and photograph, or learn their history, and others to seek out some of the very interesting folklore behind these structures. According to many stories, the domes are frequented by groups of people performing animal sacrifices and various rituals, while other stories tell of ghosts and strange demonic voices seen and experienced when visiting the domes late at night.
So how did these domes come to be constructed in the first place, and why were they never finished?
In 1982, a company called InnerConn Technology, originally based in California, was relocating to Arizona, and chose this piece of land to build their offices, and manufacturing space. The company manufactured circuit boards for numerous electronic devices such as computers, watches and more. The dome design for the structures was chosen due to it being a cheaper alternative to build in comparison to other buildings, and they could build them fairly quickly. In addition to these points, the building’s design would help regulate temperature in the intense Arizona desert heat. They built frames from steel around giant balloons, and coated the entire thing with polyurethane foam. The layer of foam was several inches thick. Concrete was then poured over the frames, followed by another layer of concrete to complete the structure’s exterior. Approximately six weeks were spent constructing each building, at a cost of about $150,000 each.
In all, there are four structures, with one that was to be reserved as the main office. The odd one out, shaped like a flying saucer, was meant to be the office, while the other three elongated structures, each made of four domes, were to be used for their manufacturing operations. Beneath the structures are narrow ventilation shafts, which were to also be used for pumping various manufacturing liquids between buildings. The plans had originally called for seven buildings, but three were never started, and only part of the foundations were constructed. These buildings would have also been used for manufacturing.
Mid-construction, the company ran out of money and defaulted on a loan, leading to the bank taking control of the company’s assets. It didn’t help that it was later discovered that the groundwater in this area was contaminated, which would have left them unable to further the operation anyway, and the facility would have inevitably become abandoned anyway. The domes have sat abandoned since, crumbling beneath the Arizona sun.
Over the decades it has sat abandoned, it has been a target for graffiti and other vandalism, parties and more. The concrete on the interior and exterior has continued to crumble, and some of the building’s sections have collapsed entirely. Aside from ghost hunters and photographers, many UFO hunters visit the domes every year in hopes of catching something strange in the deep, dark Arizona night skies.
The domes will most likely remain just as they are, until they eventually collapse entirely into the dirt, but who knows how long that could be? It’s obvious these things have been through quite a lot in their nearly 40 years of abandonment.
Thanks for checking out Architectural Afterlife! If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy checking out these other interesting places in Arizona.