Ever hear of the majestic architecture of the dome homes in Cape Romano, Florida? Maybe you’ve also heard of the rumors that they were designed for a cult, housed a military base, or were created by aliens?
As much as we wish we could say that the structure was made by people from Mars, it was actually built by a person. Also, it’s actually a singular home, not a multitude of homes. We’re sorry to put a damper on your imagination, but maybe this article will cheer you up as to why they were built!
Who Built the Dome House?
A retired businessman, Bob Lee, in 1980 built the Dome House on Cape Romano, south of Marco Island and part of the 10,000 islands of Florida. This incredible structure was originally built as six dome modules atop of stilts on the beach of Cape Romano. As of 2019, they sit 300 feet away from the shore, being further consumed by the ocean.
Bob first designed the home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on a piece of property he owned. He had wanted to make a vacation home for him and his family to enjoy a scenic tropical paradise, which brought him to Cape Romano, Florida.
For a total of 2,400 square feet, the home featured two-stories in some modules, heating from the floor (an invention from Bob), an automatic log fireplace reloader (another invention from Bob), solar power energy, and a 23,000-gallon cistern under the home that would filter rainwater caught from the gutters.
Made out of white concrete with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and full sustainability, this house really had it all! The Dome House was finished in 1982 and valued at $1.5 million after completion.
In 1984, the Dome House was sold by Lee and his family, but was repossessed by the Lees in 1987 after finances started dwindling. They continued living in this structure as their primary home until 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit.
The hurricane had flooded the interior of the home, but the structure stood strong.
The Dome House was sold by Bob in 2005 to a Naples, Florida resident, John Tosto, for $300,000.
After Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, two of the domes fell into the ocean. Now, the Dome House’s remnants are home to a reef and marine life.
The Dome House stands as a historic landmark for tourists to visit and keeps diverse marine life under its base.
Why Was the Dome House Abandoned?
After John Tosto acquired the property, his vision was to renovate it. Unfortunately, due to a lack of permits and plenty of regulatory bodies including the Department of Environmental Protection, John was required to demolish the house on the grounds that it was marked as “unsafe”.
In 2009, John was fined $187,000 for not demolishing the structure. During that time, the house officially became abandoned. In 2018, the Collier County Code Enforcement division took ownership of the domes.
To this day, the Dome House still stands with four domes not being taken by the sea… yet.
Can You Visit the Domes on Cape Romano?
You can! Luckily, the Dome House is accessible via boats and jet skis! At Wow – Marco Island, we take a tour of the 10,000 Islands with a visitation to the Dome House.
You can learn the history of the Dome House while getting close to the structure to see how it’s stood tall during the intense hurricanes. Schedule a tour with us by booking online or giving us a call at (239) 888-2488.