Category Archives: NMU history

The Largest Wooden Dome in the World

In 1971, the Northern Michigan University (NMU) administration proposed building an All-Events Center  for sports, concerts, and other community activities. In a campus referendum on May 5, 1971, NMU students voted “no” to the proposed all-events center. This happened despite the support of the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU), the on-campus student government. Students  opposed the All-Events Center because the administration planned to charge students a $20 per semester use fee to partially support construction. In addition, the previous year the administration had proposed the construction of a new physical education building, making an additional sports center appear redundant to both NMU students and the citizens of Marquette.



A brochure put out by ASNMU in support of an All-Events Center.


The official vote tally.

In 1977, the administration reintroduced the idea of constructing an all-events center, but the proposal again received strong negative responses. Students and citizens of Marquette  believed the project was too expensive or unnecessary. However, in 1985 NMU became a site for a U.S. Olympic training/education center. As a result, the Michigan legislature approved $21,800,000 for the construction of a Sports Training Complex.

On September 14, 1991, the Superior Dome opened its doors for the first football game. A capacity crowd of 7,942 fans watched Northern Michigan University defeat the University of Indianapolis, 31-20.



The Dome was not fully completed until 1995 with the addition of locker rooms, classrooms, offices, ticket sales, and repairs of ice damage to the roof.


The Superior Dome stands 14 stories and covers 5.1 acres, making it the largest wooden dome in the world. The Tacoma Dome in Washington State is smaller by only six feet in diameter. Construction required 781 Douglas fir beams and 108.5 miles of fir decking. The seating capacity is 8,000, but the building can hold 16,000. The artificial turf is the largest single piece of retractable turf in the world. It takes about two hours to set up and 30 minutes to put it away. The artificial turf accommodates football, soccer, softball, and field hockey. A hardwood floor beneath the turf supports basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, and includes a 200-meter track. NMU and the community use the dome for commencement, builders’ shows, car shows, craft shows, public school events, and more.


The exterior of the Superior Dome.


The interior of the Superior Dome.

This post was written by Eliza Compton.



The Fantastics

As I pondered what I should write my blog post on, I thought of all the fun photos I have looked at and remembered seeing The Fantastics. The Fantastics were a band here at NMU from 1971 to 1976 composed of 14 students. They were called, “Northern’s Musical Ambassadors,” and were characterized by wearing matching outfits and go-go boots. The Fantastics were very successful on campus, performing at different events, and popular outside of campus as well, performing as USO shows within the states, and internationally. They made a couple albums from various music companies. In 1973 The Fantastics were recipients of the Department of Defense Certificate of Esteem.

The 1973 campus yearbook, the Peninsulan, said of the Fantastics

“Northern Michigan University’s Entertainment Ambassadors, the “Fantastics,” have performed over one hundred times since their first appearance in December of 1970. The multi-talented young men and women have received rave notices following their performance not only in Michigan, but over a four state span. The secret to their success lies in the fact that they do all types of music. Stylistically, they are the 50’s, 60’s, and the 70’s all rolled up in one enthusiastic explosion of the finest in the sounds from the past three decades.

“In January of 1973, the “Fantastics” will be entertaining our American Forces in the Caribbean, as USO representatives selected through the Department of Defense and the National Music Council. The tour will last five weeks and will include performance in Cuba, Central America, the Panama Canal Zone, South America, Trinidad, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.”

Please enjoy some photos of NMU’s Fantastics!


If you are interested in hearing the Fantastics, I have included a link to one of their songs on YouTube: click here for The Fantastics!

This post was written by Eliza Compton.

Upcoming Event: Evening at the Archives!

Get excited for our new upcoming Evening at the Archives!

Evening at the Archives is a semi-annual event showcasing research that has been done here at the NMU Archives. These events are an opportunity to get students and the general public to come into the Archives and enjoy presentations and workshops on archival and historical topics.

On Thursday, this February the 15th, in the Front/Reading Room of the Archives, we will be dedicating ourselves to sharing about the past student protests of Northern Michigan University. These occurrences took place during the civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s. This is sure to be a very interesting and captivating Evening at the Archives! The researcher who has been putting the presentation together, Kyleigh Sapp, Digitization Specialist, is excited to share her findings with you! This is an important topic that applies to today, and is just as compelling as it was 50 years ago. Kyleigh can fill you in with more!

As we know, the attitudes and aspirations of the young protesters are incredibly inspirational, and their efforts helped create the Northern we know today.


Find this Event on Facebook:


When thinking about the late 60’s and early 70’s in America, one cannot help but to be reminded of a time of major change, extreme views, and controversy. Whether it was the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights Movement, the Nixon Administration, or simply the emergence of hippie culture, it seemed everyone had an opinion they wanted heard and Northern’s campus was no exception. Join the Archives on Feb. 15 2018 for a presentation over the student protests made over civil rights, what demands were made and whether or not the Northern Michigan University kept their promises.


(This post was written by digitization specialist Lydia Henning)