A new home for the dome

Rescued in 1981, old FHS cupola will memorialize Michael, Miles Jordan

By Brent Lindquist
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Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 9.37.47 AM FERNDALE — For years, the old cupola atop Ferndale High School’s old main building was a tradition in and of itself, commemorating the memories made by each graduating class.
  Soon, it will serve as a different kind of memorial.
  Michael Jordan, a member of the FHS graduating class of 1973, was killed along with his son earlier this year. Now, several of his classmates are making the cupola into a memorial for Jordan and his son.
  First installed in 1933 when the old main building was constructed, “The Dome,” as it was commonly known, housed a school bell. Over the years, it was the resting place for a variety of other items as well, including a Volkswagen Beetle, a toilet, a pumpkin, empty beer kegs and various undergarments, according to a post on the city of Ferndale website regarding the structure. The graduating class each year would traditionally climb the roof and paint their year on the dome.
  Jay Hebert’s graduation year was 1973. He remembers the dome fondly, and he also remembers when it was taken down in 1981.
  “They deemed it an attractive nuisance and said it had to be removed,” Hebert said.
  His mother, Ann, was a teacher at the time, and one day she called him and told him that a teacher at the school was planning to burn the dome in a bonfire.
  “The last thing I was going to let them do was burn it up,” he said. “So I ran down with my boom truck, grabbed onto it, lifted it into the truck and drove it back to my shop.”
  Over the years, Jay and Ann Hebert worked on restoring the dome.
  “I chipped paint off of it that was about three quarters to an inch thick, it had been painted so many times,” Ann Hebert said. “The students painted it during the night, and the custodians painted it the next morning.”
  Once all the paint was scraped off, the Heberts discovered that the bare boards under it were rotten. Jay pulled all of them out and replaced them with exact replicas. However, the wood was dimensional, meaning he couldn’t just buy the exact same size boards.
  “It was a nightmare,” he said. “I had to plane down all the wood, but I restored it exactly.”
  During the restoration process, the Heberts discovered something of a historical treasure. When it sat atop the old main building, there was access to the inside of the cupola from the old library.
  “Kids had been going up there since the 1920s and writing their names into the cupola,” Jay Hebert said.
  So he installed a piano-hinged vent into the cupola making it possible to climb up and see those signatures and inscriptions.
  Earlier this year, Ferndale mayor Gary Jensen was attending the informal reunion of FHS’s graduating classes held each year on the Friday night of Old Settlers Days in Pioneer Park. He began chatting with Ann Hebert about Jordan, a fellow 1973 FHS graduate and mutual friend of his and Jay’s. Jordan was killed along with his infant son, Miles, on July 19.
  Ann Hebert still substitute teaches at the Lummi Nation School, where Jordan also taught. She told Jensen that she and Jordan used to have lunch sometimes when she was subbing at the school. She said the dome should be on display for people to see, and that it would be a fitting tribute for Michael and Miles Jordan.
  They decided that Pioneer Park would be a fitting spot for the cupola because it is the site of the reunion each year.
  “Then, on that same night, I was telling my fellow 1973 graduate Harold Denton about it,” Jensen said. “He said he was going to give me money for a memorial bench, but Michael would enjoy the dome here if you could some how get it here.”
  Denton wrote a check for $1,200 to get a slab in place and a plaque made explaining the historical significance of the cupola.
  Once the cupola is moved to Pioneer Park, Jensen said the piano-hinged vent probably won’t be accessible for safety reasons, but he plans to take many photos if the inscriptions inside for posterity.
  Jensen’s term as mayor ends at the close of 2015, and he said he’s happy this is one of his final projects in the position. He said the cupola should be in place in Pioneer Park either by the end of December or early in January.
  Jay Hebert said he’s just happy he’s found a good home for the cupola.
  “The deal is they can’t destroy it,” he said. “The odds of it being treated well are extremely high. And it’s in honor of a friend.”