The Astrodome’s Christmas Star

December, 1964: The Astrodome nears completion.

December, 1964: The Astrodome nears completion.

In a story that appeared in the Houston Post on April 9, 1990, Robert Minchew, who represented the Astrodome architects on site during construction, described the origins of the Christmas star that topped the Dome each year:

Minchew says the Astrodome’s Christmas star had its beginnings with some true holiday spirit, and spirits.

The steel framework for the roof was up when a period of rain began before Christmas [1963]. Foremen and other supervisors had to report to work even though nothing was going on. Several congregated in the construction shack where Minchew worked for more than two years.

Minchew wanted to work then, and found those men a distraction. He suggested they leave him alone and go do something worthwhile, like decorate the Astrodome for Christmas.

“They had been consuming a little of the spirits,” he said, and thought that was a fine idea. “They went down and got reinforcing steel, and welded it into that giant star.”

“They put a construction string of lightbulbs on it and dragged it up over the steel structure of that dome while it was raining. Why they didn’t fall and kill themselves I’ll never know. So far as I know, they still use that star today.”

– John Ira Petty, “Those folks who built the incredible Dome,” Houston Post, April 9, 1990

Lecture & Book Signing at Houston Modern Market

Astrodome author Jim Gast will lecture on the book during Houston Modern Market Week on Sunday, October 26 2014 at 1:00 PM. The event will be at Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter St. in Houston, and the lecture is included with your Market admission. Books will be available for sale. For details please visit

Book Events – September, 2014

I will be discussing The Astrodome and signing copies at two September events: Houston: Tuesday, September 23, 6:00 PM: Preservation Houston and The Heritage Society present a special program featuring the new book: The Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle. Meet the author at 6 PM; program begins at 6:30. St. Paul Methodist Church, 5501 Main St. Free for Heritage Society and Preservation Houston members, $5 for non-members.





 Austin: Wednesday September 24, 5:30 PM: at the Austin Center for Architecture, 801 W. 12th Street. Co-hosted by MidTexMod and AIA Austin.



“The Astrodome” Excerpted in Houston Chronicle

Sunday’s Houston Chronicle features several excerpts from The Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle. The excerpts appeared in the paper’s Opinion Section. View the story here

(Unlike the print edition of the paper, the web version is a bit jumbled and at times it is hard to tell where one excerpt ends and another begins).

The e-book is now on sale at Amazon. Buy the e-book here. The print edition will be available at the end of July.