It’s a building instantly recognizable to any Star Wars fan: the stone igloo allowing entrance to the homestead of Owen and Beru Lars. It’s where Luke Skywalker grew up with his adoptive parents, tending to moisture vaporators and dreaming of far-off adventures. The exterior set, with the unmistakable dome, was located in the deserts of Tunisia, south of the town of Nefta. After being used in A New Hope, the dome was left behind in the desert. Needless to say, after nearly 40 years of exposure to the elements, the Lars homestead dome was not faring well. When Belgian Star Wars fan Mark Dermul took a trip to visit the site of the Lars homestead in 2010, he was dismayed to see just how much of a toll the years had taken.
But where many people would have just shaken their head and chalked it up as a pop-culture landmark swallowed up by time and the elements, Dermul and others instead launched the Save the Lars Homestead project, which sought donations to help restore the site to its former glory. Over a 10-month period, Dermul and the others were able to raise the $10,000 they needed for the restoration, and on May 25, 2012 – a date that should ring bells for any die-hard Star Wars fan – they set out to Tunisia to save Luke’s old stomping grounds.
Over the course of several days, and working in 110-degree heat, the team worked to strip away the decaying parts of the dome, reinforce it, and restore it to even better than its original condition. As Dermul explains:
The sun beat down on us while we put on 40 litres of white paint, turning the igloo back into its pristine shape. We did not weather it ourselves, since we knew the desert would do that for us in due course. Three months from now, the igloo will look like it did in Attack of the Clones. Give it six months and it will look like it did in A New Hope. We wanted this process to occur naturally. By 7pm, while we had only a half hour of daylight left, the last brushstrokes applied and the site completely cleaned up, we could take a step back and sigh. We did it. The Lars Homestead was totally rejuvenated and even stronger than before, making sure it will last longer than a decade this time.
After completing their work, the team left behind a plaque explaining the project in Arabic, French, and English. You can read Dermul’s full account of the trip over at TheForce.net, and you can watch a short video about the restoration below. Nice work, Mr. Dermul and company. May the Force be with you, always.