30 Minutes in the Life: Cape Romano Dome House: Marco Island

I left you in the gardens a few days ago. Today we are doing a boat trip through the 10 000 Islands off the west coast of South Florida. Do not be deceived, you really are not going to go through 10 000 islands. I thought we would head south but the tour did not do that. Instead it looped through some islands and then headed to the Cape Romano Dome House. If you are wondering, so was I. There is a very interesting story behind these domes sitting in the water.

In 1979, Bob Lee, a retired businessman, decided to build a home on an island just south of Marco Bay. The original house was built on stilts and consisted of 6 domes. 2,400 sq feet in size the house consisted of 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. In some areas the home was two stories. The home had a large patio with a sweeping walkway to the beach. I am sure in it’s day it attracted much attention.

Bob Lee, it appears, loved inventing things. Prior to building the island home, he constructed a similar structure in Tennessee, which apparently is still standing. He appears to be a man before his time, using solar power to run the house, and installed gutters to catch the rainwater in large tanks. Once the water was purified it would re-used throughout the house. The walls of the house were made of concrete mixed with the beach sand. The domed shaped roofing was supposed to be suitable for providing hurricane protection.

The house briefly left their ownership, but due to financial issues the the house was repossessed by the Lee family. Hurricane Andrew blew in in 1992, and while the structure stayed strong, the windows did not, and significant damage was done to the interior of the property. In 1992, due to the fact that the house was no longer habitable, the Lee family abandoned the home.

2004, saw the change in the water levels and they were slowly beginning to touch the concrete pillars holding up the home. In 2005 the property was sold. The new owner, John Tosto, had great plans for the home. His idea was to physically move the home to higher ground. However, he did not have the chance to do that as Hurricane Wilma struck south Florida. While John Tosto, had ambitions to try to relocate the house he also faced much opposition from Governmental Bodies and the county.

In 2007 John Tosto was ordered to demolish the structure. Having invested a significant amount of money into the property already, he objected the idea of demolishing it. By 2009, he had racked up close to $187 000 in fines.

The house was abandoned, and by 2013 it was sitting in deep water. There was a move in 2015 to relocate the domes to deeper water and use it for a natural reef, but the idea never really took off. In 2017, 2 of the domes were destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

In 2018 the state took ownership of the property. By November 2019, the state had made no determination of the property.

From my point of view, when I researched boat trips, I also researched on the dome houses. So I knew that there was a very interesting story to them. To view them was unique and not something we would typically do, so I was very grateful to see this unique The structures are definitely sinking. When you view original pictures of the home these domes were way above water level. I do encourage you to google these domes and read up about them. Here is a link to a video that shows something of the home or you can view this video.

From a photographers point of view the domes are unique and tell a story of abandonment. Fishermen in boats got into a lot of my images, which was very frustrating and I may or may not have removed them and their boats from my images so as to keep the rest of the image looking like there was not boat. Looking at these images I am reminded about the power of water and the damage that it can do in our lives. The water level down south is creeping higher and higher, and already they are looking at what this will look like for places like Miami. Clearly the dome houses are a good example of this.

Looking at the last photo shows the land in view, but not close enough for this home to have ultimately survived.

The trip out to the dome houses was a highlight for me and it would be nice to be able to kayak closer to pillars. The boat got close but not close enough for me.

As I have mentioned before, Richard and I have chosen to start checking off the bucket list. Why? He has been diagnosed with melanomas. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. For this trip, we were under a covered awning and Richard wore a hat and a UV50 shirt, and had sunscreen on all over.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend Janet Crouch Photography, has to share this month. Watch out for the dolphins on the 30th.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

3 Comments on “30 Minutes in the Life: Cape Romano Dome House: Marco Island

  1. Pingback: 30 Minutes on the Life: June 2021

  2. Sharleen, this is amazing! Not a place I was familiar with but now would love to visit! There are definitely places in South Florida that are on our list to see. Thank you for sharing your adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

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