- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
See Cape Romano Dome House
An abandoned vacation home spent a decade taking on legends, is now taking on water.
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 but the truth is that the now-empty concrete bubbles were born from the mind of retired oil producer, Bob Lee. The structures were built in 1981 and in Lee’s initial conception, the eccentric vacation home was to be a self-sufficient, eco-friendly relaxation spot for his family. Among the innovations at the site are the raised units themselves which would be heated by lighting fires among the concrete pylons beneath the rooms, and the dome-shaped roofs which were to direct rainwater into troughs that would then be collected for showering and dishwater.
Even the tumultuous Florida weather was taken into account and the sturdy, rounded domes were able to sustain hurricane winds with little damage. Unfortunately as the landscape on the edge of the island began to change, simple erosion finally made the homes unlivable. The firm beach on which the domes were built began to be overtaken by the sea, until the domes were surrounded on all sides by water. They only survive thanks to the concrete pillars elevating them above the water level.
The Dome House was repurchased in 2001, and while the new owner attempted to refurbish the site, property taxes and prohibitive construction costs delayed the project until there was little chance of saving the buildings. With no chance of reclamation, the abandoned domes make an excellent setting for both wildlife and wild legends.