The Dome Houses of Cape Romano History
The Dome Houses of Cape Romano are not technically on Marco Island Florida. They are on the next Island down called Ten Thousand Island which is only accessible via water. The island belongs to a larger group of Ten Thousand Islands. Built by Bob Lee, a now-deceased retired oil producer in 1980. The self-sustaining solar-powered dome homes started as a dream vacation home.
Lee started the construction in 1980 and completed it by 1982. Lee purchased a barge to move the necessary supplies needed to build the dome homes. The masterpiece consisted of six connected dome structures for a total of 2,400 square feet. The house boasted three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Why Build The Dome Houses?
According to the family members and locals alike, Lee did not like corners. For Lee, angles are a waste of space. It’s also known that he built a dome style to capture runoff water to use as the main supply for the house.
In 1984, the Lee family decided to sell the dome homes but repossessed them in 1987. A few years later the family moved in, and the dome houses became their primary residence. That is until 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida. While some windows broke, the structure remained intact.
Fast forward to 2005, at this point that the family decides to sell the property to John Tosto of Naples, Fl. Tosto planned to renovate the homes, but a sea wall was required and sadly never built. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma damaged the house and severely eroded the beach ending the dream of renovation.
As the years went on, the beach eroded more and more making the once dream beach home an abandoned water-logged ruin of its former self. In 2017, sadly Hurricane Irma hit, and two of the original six domes sunk. You can still see the tops of the domes, but they are submerged. By 2016, the house was approximately 180 feet offshore. Today, the dome homes stand about 200 feet away from the beach.
Why Visit The Dome Houses?
I have always had an obsession with dereliction. It’s a thing called “Urban Exploration” (often shortened as UE, urbex and sometimes known as roof-and-tunnel hacking). Who knew?
For me, it started when I was growing up a neighbor full of empty buildings filled with vintage goodies. I thrived on rummaging through the left behind artifacts of years gone past. A favorite for me was an old hotel at the end of our street where the other kids and I would explore for hours. I find myself daydreaming about how and why a place is derelict. The mystery of places frozen in time is chilling and surreal. It provokes imagination followed with a burning desire to research why. Which is the second part of the fascination – I love history!
Given my obsession with visiting The Dome Houses of Cape Romano was a must! I’ve done many tours seeking about a variety of abandoned places from homes, mansions, castles, and cities! But never have I explored a water-bound abandoned house.
Seeing the Dome Houses of Cape Romano in person is an exhilarating experience. When they appear in the distance, you will recognize the alien-like shapes. The sun is beaming down on top of the birds that now call them home. As you get up close, you will see the graffiti that now adorns them. You will also look at the rims of the sunken domes – a stark reminder of the decrepit state. Every abandoned building has a story, but Dome Houses of Cape Romano are unique. Most of all, they will not be with us much longer. It’s only a matter of time before another storm crumbles the remaining four, eliminating this treasure forever.
How to Visit The Dome Houses of Cape Romano?
If you plan on visiting Cape Romano, you will have to get there via water. There is no bridge to the island. Some people kayak, some go on paddle boards, some boat. Depending on where you start it could be as much as five to seven-mile trek so plan carefully. Here are some maps so you can see:
Jet Ski to The Dome Houses of Cape Romano
We choose to take a jet ski tour to explore the islands and the dome houses. A brilliant decision for several reasons.
- If you are not familiar with this area, there is a strong potential to get lost
- We wanted a guide that knew the area and who could give us local knowledge
- Neither of us fancied paddling anything for five to seven miles with or against the tide
We took a 2.5 hour to with Wow Jetskis. Our guide Ryan was fantastic! A local Floridian who knows not only the waterways like the back of his hand but also an expert skier! I can’t say enough good things about this tour. The tour guides carefully navigate you through no wake zones while stopping along the way to capture photographs of you!
We booked through Trip Advisor because I could not find the specific tour we were trying to do anywhere else. Don’t do this, go to their website directly to book. If you ask, the owner might give you 10% what other sites list if you call direct. Ask for Ryan – you will not be disappointed.
In addition to seeing The Dome Houses of Cape Romano, we also got up close and personal with a family of dolphins! An added and much enjoyed bonus.
The Dome Houses of Cape Romano Today
See more photos and keep up with the status of the dome homes on The Dome Houses of Cape Romano Facebook Page.
Photo Credits: Vintage pictures credit to Kristian Maples (Bob’s grandson) and Coastal Breeze News. Brit on the Move took all other photos.
Are you planning to explore The Dome Houses of Cape Romano? If so, share your experience here!
Looking for more posts on Florida? Start here:
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- Rainbow River – Why You Should Visit
- The Crystal River – Scalloping and Swimming With Manatees
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