The Silver Dome Ballroom, built during the Prohibition era, is a spectacular example of early modernist architecture, designed by Cornel Moen and set in the Wisconsin hinterlands on U.S. Highway 10 five miles east of Neillsville.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Silver Dome opened in 1933, showcasing famous big bands to the delight of music lovers and dancers, who nicknamed its uniquely designed dance floor, the “floating dance floor.”
The interior remains true to original form, as does the building’s purpose. Current owner Doug Myron hosts seasonal events showcasing country, blues, rockabilly, bluegrass, and rock artists as well as polka and old-time music. Notable musicians who have appeared at the Silver Dome in recent years include the late Grant Hart (Husker Du), Wayne Hancock, Lil Ed, and the Blues Imperials, Southern Culture on the Skids and 4 on the Floor.
The Silver Dome hosts occasional free or low-cost music featuring Wisconsin blues acts, including Eau Claire’s Howard “Guitar” Luedke and Milwaukee’s Reverand Raven and the Chain-Smokin’ Altar Boys. Closed for the winter season, space is available for rental.
A remarkable feature of the Silver Dome’s construction is that the ballroom rests on dozens of concrete piers, which hold the entire structure about a foot off the ground. This design not only allows sufficient airflow to prevent the floor beams, flooring, and other foundation materials from rotting, it also provides such “give” to the dance floor that dancers report being able to dance for hours without discomfort as compared to other, less-forgiving dance floors. Area dancers describe it as a “floating” dance floor. Except for some minor interior remodeling, the structure remains almost exactly as it was built, including the concrete pier; the ceiling, floor, and wall beams and boards; and the maple dance floor. Many of the original or long-time fixtures and contents also remain, such as the circular bar, walk-in center cooler, and cash registers.
Know Before You Go
Camping is available, and a neighboring restaurant called the Speakeasy is a nod to the Prohibition-era and the restaurant's roots as a supper club roadhouse. Free parking is available on site. The Silver Dome Ballroom maintains an active Facebook page listing its seasonal and occasional events.