Dome Homes

Dated: November 20 2019

Views: 334

 

If you are cruising around the Ten Thousand Islands south of Marco Island, you might see six dome houses rising out of the water approximately 300 feet offshore from Cape Romano Island. Constructed in 1980 by retired businessman Bob Lee, the houses were abandoned in 1992 and sold in 2005 to John Tosto.   

These homes were originally built on Morgan Island where Lee purchased four lots for his project.  Construction began in 1980. Lee’s vacation home consisted of six interconnected dome structures which made up the rooms of the house.  The home was 2400 square feet with three bedroom and three baths.

Prior to building the Cape Romano home, Lee constructed a full scale model on land he owned in Tennessee which is still standing today.  The house was designed to run on solar power.  He had a rain barrel to collect and purify water.  The home was completed in 1982 and was valued at 1.5 million. 

 In 1984, Lee sold the home but ended up repossessing the structure in 1987 at which time it became the family’s primary residence staying there until 1992 when Hurricane Andrew came through and did considerable damage to the interior of the home.  After Andrew, the family abandoned the home which was sold to John Tosto for $300,000.

Tosto planned to renovate the home.  Lee encouraged him to construct a sea wall to stop the erosion that had been eating away at the island for years. Tosto, however, had other plans.  He wanted to move the house to a higher point on the island.  Unfortunately, Hurricane Wilma struck the island causing more erosion and destabilizing the house’s foundation. 

After the storm, Tosto continued with his plans to move the structure; howcver, he was not able to get the needed permits for the move.  In 2007, Collier County Code Enforcement ordered the demolition of the house.  Despite having an engineer’s certification that the house was reparable, the board still voted for demolition. The house was never demolished but it now sits in six feet deep water.  In 2015 a movement was started to move the domes to a deeper location where they could become part of the state’s underwater reef program.  Unfortunately, the movement did not get funded and by 2016, the house was 180 feet offshore and was becoming a tourist attraction.

When Hurricane Irma hit in 2017,two of the domes collapsed into the water. In 2018, Collier County transferred ownership to the state.  Today, the fate of the Domes is still in flux although four of them are still standing.

 

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Ellie and Bob Bunting

Ellie has returned to real estate sales after spending the last 40 years teaching English at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers She has teamed up with her husband, Bob, who has been a....

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