For years, bizarre domed buildings on the southern tip of Marco Island in Cape Romano, Florida have been a mystery. Who built them? What were they used for? Today, the sea is slowly claiming the domes, but the mystery remains… take a look.
Every day, the domes inch a little further into their watery graves...
But when they stood on dry land, they weren’t any less of a mystery. Some locals and explorers said they belonged to a secret cult, while other rumors attributed them to aliens. However, the truth tells quite a different story.
The vacation home was built by Bob Lee in 1980, a retired independent oil producer. Admittedly, the design was ahead of its time.
As his daughter, Janet Maples, explained: “I can remember one time, we went to the drug store on Marco and some people in the row behind me were saying, ‘Have you been by those dome houses?’ And the other one said, ‘Yeah, but I hear they guard that with machine guns!’ Somehow it got a reputation of being a scary place.”
But actually it was a cozy space, perfect for relaxing with friends and family.
There was nothing scary inside after all – even the baby looks happy.
Before building his island getaway, Bob built a prototype in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. That structure is still standing, although it has weathered with age.
Although Bob passed away years ago, his daughter Janet has fond memories of her ingenious father. “He loved inventing things,” she said. “He invented a heat source for under the floors of our house and had an invention that would bring logs in and drop them on the fireplace that came through the wall of our den. Kids loved him. He was just fun to be around; a really adventurous guy way before his time.”
So how did the home end up like this? It was the primary residence of Bob’s great-grandson until 1993, a year after the destructive Hurricane Andrew hit.
The hurricane didn’t do much damage to the dome house thanks to its unique shape, but the town was devastated. Fewer visitors came to the sandy beaches, and many of the homes along the coastline fell into disrepair. In 2005, the house was purchased by John Tosto, but, only a few months later, Hurricane Wilma hit.
Although plans were made for renovation – to protect the home from further damage – they did not meet the standards of local ordinances. This dome house was literally dead in the water.
The county ordered the houses to be torn down, but, for reasons unknown, no one followed their instructions. Surely the Tosto’s received some hefty fines, but nevertheless, the structures remain an interesting site that is often visited by tourists and locals alike.
Bob’s amazing home will soon belong to creatures of the sea – no doubt it will make an interesting reef.
The story of the dome house is a reminder of just how strong the forces of nature can be. Share these amazing and forgotten images with your friends and family.
Credit: Messy Nessy Chic