Through a gift of $3.8 million from the estate of William Womble, construction of the facility began in 1995 and was completed in 1996. Eric Meyer, M.D., an anesthesiologist who designed the dual-aperture 0.72 m (28 in) f/21 Ritchey-Chretien telescope, and his wife, Barbara, donated $1 million and brought the optical lenses personally from Chicago. The optical/infrared telescopes saw first light in August 1997.
During the 2011–12 winter, the dome over the telescope was damaged by high winds, allowing snow to enter the observing area. The telescope was secured in early April 2012 by a mountaineer who hiked to the summit. A complete inspection of the damage did not take place until the road to the summit opened in May. During the following summer, the remains of the old dome were demolished and a new dome was fabricated. Installation of the new structure occurred on October 20, 2012. The telescope is not expected to be fully operational until summer 2013.