Before there was Tilles Center, there was the Dome
Auditorium. It was a 140-foot- diameter, galvanized steel structure near the
southwestern corner of the C.W. Post campus, with a cement floor and about
3,300 movable plastic seats, used for everything from basketball games and high
school graduations to concerts by artists such as pianist Arthur Rubenstein,
soprano Joan Sutherland and the Chicago Symphony.
Built in 1971 for $1.5 million, it was not the greatest place for musical
performance - not only were the acoustics bad, but when it rained, the sound of
water on steel could drown out the musicians. "It was like the inside of a
drum," impresario Bob Bernstein said at the time. But it was the largest such
space on Long Island, home for many years to Bernstein's Island Concert Hall
series, among other activities.
But the winter of 1978 was a bad one, with ice storms and frequent heavy
snows. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the 2�-acre roof of the Hartford Civic Center
collapsed just hours after a game. Two days later, 17 inches of snow fell on
Long Island. More than 40 cars were left stranded on the Long Island
Expressway, and all but three of the Long Island Rail Road's electrified lines
shut down. Half the roof of a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Jericho fell.
And sometime between 3:45 and 4 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, the Dome
collapsed under the weight of the accumulated ice and snow. The building was
empty at the time, and no one was hurt. In fact, the structure itself sank so
gently, apparently buoyed by the pressure of the air inside, that large
sections of chairs were left untouched and light fixtures were undamaged.
"It looks like a hard-boiled egg with its top cut off," a university
The following January, Post executives announced plans to build a
$3-million concert hall on the same site as a replacement. The 2,200- seat
auditorium that became the main hall of the Rose and Gilbert Tilles Center for
the Performing Arts ultimately cost about $4.5 million.