Situated in the Ten Thousand Islands area in Florida is the Cape Romano Dome House, perhaps one of the most bizarre-looking residencies in the world. For many years, these abandoned buildings on the isolated southern tip of Marco Island in Cape Romano, Florida, were a bit of a mystery. Today Cape Romano Dome Houses are being claimed by the sea, marching inches further into their watery grave each day but the mystery of the space age structures has finally been uncovered.
The history of this place is fascinating. A number of legends have sprung up surrounding the origins of the crumbling cluster of domes at the tip of Cape Romano. Everything from a secret cult to aliens have been credited with creating the space-age buildings. The Cape Romano Dome House is undoubtedly one of Florida’s most eerie, unusual abandoned homes.
The History of Cape Romano Dome House
“Bob Lee, a now-deceased retired oil producer, spent much of the years 1978 and 1979 surveying and purchasing land on Cape Romano in hopes of constructing a vacation home. He wanted a place that was self-sustaining and solar-powered, even if he forgot about the viability of the land he was building them on. Before erecting the Cape Romano Dome House, he built a full-scale model on land he owned in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Tennessee dome house is still standing. In 1980, construction began on a holiday home close to Morgan Island for Bob, his wife Margaret, and their children.
Lee’s project was designed with much forethought. It was built to sustain hurricane winds and other elements of Florida’s unpredictable weather. Due to the remote location, Lee had to buy a barge to transport building materials to the construction site. The house was completed in 1982, and was valued at 1.5 million. The floors were tile and carpet, the walls painted white, and the rooms had large windows on all sides. The total area of this unique holiday home was 2,400 square feet.
Two years after its completion, in 1984, the Lees sold the house to another family. After that family’s financial situation declined, the Lees repossessed the home in 1987, after which point it became the family’s primary residence. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, but as Lee intended, his dome home withstood the storm. However, the inside was totally wrecked due to the broken windows. However, by that time, the island was already changing and had washed away other homes in the area. In 1992 Lee family moved out, and the Cape Romano Dome House remained abandoned until 2005.
It was purchased in 2005 by the John Tosto family with the hopes of renovating the home and making it functional again. He bought the house from the Lee family for $300,000. Tosto planned on relocating the domes off state-owned lands and bring them into compliance with county building codes. Unfortunately, a few months after purchasing the property, Hurricane Wilma struck, eroding the coastline and further destabilizing the house’s foundation. Tosto continued his effort to move his house to somewhere suitable but was faced with red tape. Tosto could not provide all the necessary permits for the Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Collier County Code Building and Enforcement Departments.
Collier County began fining Tosto after deeming the home uninhabitable and ordering it demolished in 2007. However, Tosto did not make any attempts at demolition. Instead, the house remained abandoned. In November 2009, he was fined $187,000 for not having the house demolished by the proper time. At that time the house’s foundational pillars were permanently underwater. After Tosto, the homes continued to decay as the sea began to reclaim the island. By 2013 Cape Romano Dome Houses were sitting in six feet deep water and by then snorkelers noted that it was serving as a reef and was attracting marine life.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit the area, damaging two of the domed houses so badly that they fell into the ocean. That left only four houses remaining. In 2018 ownership of Cape Romano Dome Houses was transferred to the state who owns it today. The Cape Romano Dome House survived the 2019 hurricane season, and fortunately, Dorian did no damage. With no chance of reclamation, the abandoned domes make an excellent setting for both wildlife and wild legends.
Stunning Photos of Cape Romano Dome House
Vintage Photos of Cape Romano Dome House
How To Get To The Cape Romano Dome House
Cape Romano is located south of Marco Island and only accessible by boat or kayak. The closest boat ramp is at Caxambas Pass on Marco Island. You get there by travelling due south from Marco Island on the Gulf side, past many mangrove islands, and you will know your there when you see the Dome House